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Relations  Subsisting  between  the  White 

and  Colored  People  of  the 

United  States, 



1 1 



•  b 


University  of  California  •  Berkeley 

IN   LOUISVILLE,  KY.,   1883.;*  .,    J          ^ 

The  following  was  delivered  by  FREDERICK'  DOUGLASS  as  an 
address  to  the  people  of  the  United  States  atf^a  fkHiiYe?i^k)n 
of  Colored  Men  held  in  Louisville,  Ky.,  September  24, 1883  : 

FELLOW-CITIZENS  :  Charged  with  the  responsibility  and  duty 
of  doing  what  we  may  to  advance  the  interest  and  promote  •tlie 
general  welfare  of  a  people  lately  enslaved,  and  who,  though 
now  free,  still  suffer  many  of  the  disadvantages  and  evils 
derived  from  their  former  condition,  not  the  least  among  which 
is  the  low  and  unjust  estimate  entertained  of  their  abilities 
and  possibilities  as  men,  and  their  value  as  citizens  of  the  Ke- 
public  ;  instructed  by  these  people  to  make  such  representa- 
tions and  adopt  such  measures  as  in  our  judgment  may  help 
to  bring  about  a  better  understanding  and  a  more  friendly 
feeling  between  themselves  and  their  white  fellow-citizens] 
recognizing  the  great  fact  as  we  do,  that  the  relations  of  the 
American  people  and  those  of  civilized  nations  generally  de- 
pend more  upon  prevailing  ideas,  opinions,  and  long  estab- 
lished usages  for  their  qualities  of  good  and  evil  than  upon 
courts  of  law  or  creeds  of  religion.  Allowing  the  existence 
of  a  magnanimous  disposition  on  your  part  to  listen  candidly 
to  an  honest  appeal  for  fair  play,  coming  from  any  class  of 
your  fellow-citizens,  however  humble,  who  may  have,  or  may 
think  they  have,  rights  to  assert  or  wrongs  to  redress,  the 
members  of  this  National  Convention,  chosen  from  all  parts 
of  the  United  States,  representing  the  thoughts,  feelings  and 
purposes  of  colored  men  generally,  would,  as  one  means 
of  advancing  the  cause  committed  to  them,  most  respect- 
fully and  earnestly  ask  your  attention  and  favorable  con- 
sideration to  the  matters  contained  in  the  present  paper. 

At  the  outset  we  very  cordially  congratulate  you  upon  the 
altered  condition  both  of  ourselves  and  our  common  country. 
Especially  do  we  congratulate  you  upon  the  fact  that  a  great 
reproach,  which  for  two  centuries  rested  on  the  good  name 
of  your  country,  has  been  blotted  out ;  that  chattel  slavery 
is  no  longer  the  burden  of  the  colored  man's  complaint,  and 
that  we  now  come  to  rattle  no  chains,  to  clank  no  fetters,  to 
paint  no  horrors  of  the  old  plantation  to  shock  your  sensi- 


bilities,  to  humble  your  pride,  excite  your  pity,  or  to  kindle 
your  indignation.    We  rejoice  also  that  one  of  the  results  of 
this  stupendous  revolution  in  our  national  history,  the  Repub- 
...  lie  which  was  before  divided  and  weakened  between  two  hos- 
••  ijle    arid"  irreconcilable   interests,    has   become   united    and 
^  string ;,  $hai  from  a  low  plain  of  life,  which  bordered  upon 
!  Vfe^bairismi  itjhas  risen  to  the  possibility  of  the  highest  civil- 
ization ;  that  this  change  has  started  the  American  Republic 
on  a  new  departure,  full  of  promise,  although  it  has  also 
brought  you  and  ourselves  face  to  face  with  problems  novel 
and  difficult,  destined  to  impose  upon  us  responsibilities  and 
duties,  which,  plainly  enough,  will  tax  our  highest  mental 
and  moral  ability  for  their  happy  solution. 

Born  on  American  soil  in  common  with  yourselves,  deriv- 
ing our  bodies  and  our  minds  from  its  dust,  centuries  having 
passed  away  since  our  ancestors  were  torn  from  the  shores  of 
Africa,  we,  like  yourselves,  hold  ourselves  to  be  in  every  sense 
Americans,  and  that  we  may,  therefore,  venture  to  speak  to 
you  in  a  tone  not  lower  than  that  which  becomes  earnest  men 
and  American  citizens.  Having  watered  your  soil  with  our 
tears,  enriched  it  with  our  blood,  performed  its  roughest  labor 
in  time  of  peace,  defended  it  against  enemies  in  time  of  war, 
and  at  all  times  been  loyal  and  true  to  its  best  interests,  we 
deem  it  no  arrogance  or  presumption  to  manifest  now  a  com- 
mon concern  with  you  for  its  welfare,  prosperity,  honor  and 

If  the  claim  thus  set  up  by  us  be  admitted,  as  we  think  it 
ought  to  be,  it  may  be  asked,  what  propriety  or  necessity  can 
there  be  for  the  Convention,  of  which  we  are  members  ?  and 
why  are  we  now  addressing  you  in  some  sense  as  suppliants 
asking  for  justice  and  fair  play  ?  These  questions  are  not  new 
to  us.  From  the  day  the  call  for  this  Convention  went  forth 
this  seeming  incongruity  and  contradiction  has  been  brought 
to  our  attention.  From  one  quarter  or  another,  sometimes 
with  argument  and  sometimes  without  argument,  sometimes 
with  seeming  pity  for  our  ignorance,  and  at  other  times  with 
fierce  censure  for  our  depravity,  these  questions  have  met  us. 
With  apparent  surprise,  astonishment,  and  impatience,  we 
have  been  asked  :  "What  more  can  the  colored  people  of 
this  country  want  than  they  now  have,  and  what  more  is  pos- 
sible to  them  ?"  It  is  said  they  were  once  slaves,  they  are 
now  free  ;  they  were  once  subjects,  they  are  now  sovereigns  ; 
they  wrere  once  outside  of  all  American  institutions,  they  are 

now  inside  of  all  and  are  a  recognized  part  of  the  whole 
American  people.  Why,  then,  do  they  hold  Colored  National 
Conventions  and  thus  insist  upon  keeping  up  the  color  line 
between  themselves  and  their  white  fellow-countrymen  ?  We 
do  not  deny  the  pertinence  and  plausibility  of  these  ques- 
tions, nor  do  we  shrink  from  a  candid  answer  to  the  argument 
which  they  are  supposed  to  contain.  For  we  do  not  forget 
that  they  are  not  only  put  to  us  by  those  who  have  no  sym- 
pathy with  us,  but  by  many  who  wish  us  well,  and  that  in 
any  case  they  deserve  an  answer.  Before,  however,  we  pro- 
ceed to  answer  them,  we  digress  here  to  say  that  there  is  only 
one  element  associated  with  them  which  excites  the  least  bit- 
terness of  feeling  in  us,  or  that  calls  for  special  rebuke,  and  that 
is  when  they  fall  from  the  lips  and  pens  of  colored  men  who 
suffer  with  us  and  ought  to  know  better.  A  few  such  men, 
well  known  to  us  and  the  country,  happening  to  be  more  for- 
tunate in  the  possession  of  wealth,  education,  and  position 
than  their  humbler  brethren,  have  found  it  convenient  to 
chime  in  with  the  popular  cry  against  our  assembling,  on  the 
ground  that  we  have  no  valid  reason  for  this  measure  or  for 
any  other  separate  from  the  whites  ;  that  we  ought  to  be  sat- 
isfied with  things  as  they  are.  With  white  men  who  thus  object 
the  case  is  different  and  less  painful.  For  them  there  is  a 
chance  for  charity.  Educated  as  they  are  and  have  been  for 
centuries,  taught  to  look  upon  colored  people  as  a  lower 
order  of  humanity  than  themselves,  and  as  having  few  rights, 
if  any,  above  domestic  animals,  regarding  them  also  through 
the  medium  of  their  beneficent  religious  creeds  and  just 
laws — as  if  law  and  practice  were  identical — some  allow- 
ance can,  and  perhaps  ought  to,  be  made  when  they  misap- 
prehend our  real  situation  and  deny  our  wants  and  assume  a 
virtue  they  do  not  possess.  But  no  such  excuse  or  apology 
can  be  properly  framed  for  men  who  are  in  any  way  identi- 
fied with  us.  What  may  be  erroneous  in  others  implies  either 
baseness  or  imbecility  in  them.  Such  men,  it  seems  to  us, 
•  are  either  deficient  in  self-respect  or  too  mean,  servile  and 
cowardly  to  assert  the  true  dignity  of  their  manhood  and  that 
of  their  race.  To  admit  that  there  are  such  men  among  us  is  a 
disagreeable  and  humiliating  confession.  But  in  this  respect, 
as  in  others,  we  are  not  without  the  consolation  of  company ; 
we  are  neither  alone  nor  singular  in  the  production  of  just 
such  characters.  All  oppressed  people  have  been  thus  af- 

It  is  one  of  the  most  conspicuous  evils  of  caste  and  op- 
pression, that  they  inevitably  tend  to  make  cowards  and  ser- 
viles  of  their  victims,  men  ever  ready  to  bend  the  knee  to  pride 
and  power  that  thrift  may  follow  fawning,  willing  to  betray 
the  cause  of  the  many  to  serve  the  ends  of  the  few  ;  men  who 
never  hesitate  to  sell  a  friend  when  they  think  they  can  there- 
by purchase  an  enemy.  Specimens  of  this  sort  may  be  found 
everywhere  and  at  all  times.  There  were  Northern  men  with 
Southern  principles  in  the  time  of  slavery,  and  Tories  in  the 
revolution  for  independence.  There  are  betrayers  and  in- 
formers to-  day  in  Ireland,  ready  to  kiss  the  hand  that  smites 
them  and  strike  down  the  arm  reached  out  to  save  them.  Con- 
sidering our  long  subjection  to  servitude  and  caste,  and  the 
many  temptations  to  which  we  are  exposed  to  betray  our 
race  into  the  hands  of  their  enemies,  the  wonder  is  not  that 
we  have  so  many  traitors  among  us  as  that  we  have  so  few. 

The  most  of  our  people,  to  their  honor  be  it  said,  are  re- 
markably sound  and  true  to  each  other.  To  those  who  think 
we  have  no  cause  to  hold  this  convention,  we  freely  admit 
that,  so  far  as  the  organic  law -of  the  land  is  concerned,  we 
have  indeed  nothing  to  complain  of,  to  ask  or  desire.  There 
may  be  need  of  legislation,  but  the  organic  law  is  sound. 

Happily  for  us  and  for  the  honor  of  the  Kepublic,  the 
United  States  Constitution  is  just,  liberal,  and  friendly.  The 
amendments  to  that  instrument,  adopted  in  the  trying  times 
of  reconstruction  of  the  Southern  States,  are  a  credit  to  the 
courage  and  statesmanship  of  the  leading  men  of  that  crisis. 
These  amendments  establish  freedom  and  abolish  all  unfair 
and  invidious  discrimination  against  citizens  on  account  of 
race  and  color,  so  far  as  law  can  do  so.  In  their  view,  citi- 
zens are  neither  black  nor  white,  and  all  are  equals.  With 
this  admission  and  this  merited  reproof  to  trimmers  and 
traitors,  we  again  come  to  the  question,  Why  are  we  here  in 
this  National  Convention  ?  To  this  we  answer,  first,  because 
there  is  a  power  in  numbers  and  in  union  ;  because  the  many 
are  more  than  the  few ;  because  the  voice  of  a  whole  people, 
oppressed  by  a  common  injustice,  is  far  more  likely  to  com- 
-  mand  attention  and  exert  an  influence  on  the  public  mind 
than  the  voice  of  single  individuals  and  isolated  organizations  ; 
because,  coming  together  from  all  parts  of  the  country,  the 
members  of  a  National  convention  have  the  means  of  a  more 
comprehensive  knowledge  of  the  general  situation,  and  may, 
therefore,  fairly  be  presumed  to  conceive  more  clearly  and  ex- 

press  more  fully  and  wisely  the  policy  it  maybe  necessary  for 
them  to  pursue  in  the  premises.  Because  conventions  of 
the  people  are  in  themselves  harmless,  and  when  made 
the  means  of  setting  forth  grievances,  whether  real  or 
fancied,  they  are  the  safety-valves  of  the  Eepublic,  a  wise 
and  safe  substitute  for  violence,  dynamite,  and  all  sorts 
of  revolutionary  action  against  the  peace  and  good  order 
of  society.  If  they  are  held  without  sufficient  reason, 
that  fact  will  be  made  manifest  in  their  proceedings, 
and  people  will  only  smile  at  their  weakness  and  pass  on  to 
their  usual  business  without  troubling  themselves  about  the 
empty  noise  they  are  able  to  make.  But  if  held  with  good  cause, 
and  by  wise,  sober,  and  earnest  men,  that  fact  will  be  made 
apparent  and  the  result  will  be  salutary.  That  good  old 
maxim,  which  has  come  down  to  us  from  revolutionary  times, 
that  error  may  be  safely  tolerated,  while  truth  is  left  free  to 
combat  it,  applies  here.  A  bad  law  is  all  the  sooner  repealed 
by  being  executed,  and  error  is  sooner  dispelled  by  exposure 
than  by  silence.  So  much  we  have  deemed  it  fit  to  say  of 
conventions  generally,  because  our  resort  to  this  measure  has 
been  treated  by  many  as  if  there  were  something  radically 
wrong  in  the  very  idea  of  a  convention.  It  has  been  treated 
as  if  it  were  some  ghastly,  secret  conclave,  sitting  in  darkness 
to  devise  strife  and  mischief.  The  fact  is,  the  only  serious 
feature  in  the  argument  against  us  is  the  one  which  respects 
color.  We  are  asked  not  only  why  hold  a  convention,  but/ 
with  emphasis,  why  hold  a  colored  convention  ?  Why  keep  up 
this  odious  distinction  between  citizens  of  a  common  country, 
and  thus  give  countenance  to  the  color  line  ?  It  is  argued 
that,  if  colored  men  hold  conventions,  based  upon  color, 
white  men  may  hold  white  conventions  based  upon  color, 
and  thus  keep  open  the  chasm  between  one  and  the  other 
class  of  citizens,  and  keep  alive  a  prejudice  which  we  pro- 
fess to  deplore.  We  state  the  argument  against  us  fairly  and 
forcibly,  and  will  answer  it  candidly  and  we  hope  conclu- 
sively. By  that  answer  it  will  be  seen  that  the  force  of  the 
objection  is,  after  all,  more  in  sound  than  in  substance.  No 
reasonable  man  will  ever  object  to  white  men  holding  con- 
ventions in  their  own  interests,  when  they  are  once  in  our 
condition  and  we  in  theirs,  when  they  are  the  oppressed  and 
we  the  oppressors.  In  point  of  fact,  however,  white  men  are 
already  in  convention  against  us  in  various  ways  and  at 
many  important  points.  The  practical  construction  of  A 


can  life  is  a  convention  against  us.  Human  law  may  know 
no  distinction  among  men  in  respect  of  rights,  but  human 
practice  may.  Examples  are  painfully  abundant. 

The  border  men  hate  the  Indians  ;  the  Calif ornian,  the 
Chinaman  ;  the  Mohammedan,  the  Christian,  and  vice  versa. 
In  spite  of  a  common  nature  and  the  equality  framed  into 
law,  this  hate  works  injustice,  of  which  each  in  their  own 
name  and  under  their  own  color  may  justly  complain.  The 
apology  for  observing  the  color  line  in  the  composition  of 
our  State  and  National  conventions  is  in  its  necessity  and  in 
the  fact  that  we  must  do  this  or  nothing,  for  if  we  move  our 
color  is  recognized  and  must  be.  It  has  its  foundation  in 
the  exceptional  relation  we  sustain  to  the  white  people  of  the 
country.  A  simple  statement  of  our  position  vindicates  at 
once  our  convention  and  our  cause. 

It  is  our  lot  to  live  among  a  people  whose  laws,  traditions, 
and  prejudices  have  been  against  us  for  centuries,  and  from 
these  they  are  not  yet  free.  To  assume  that  they  are  free 
from  these  evils  simply  because  they  have  changed  their  laws 
is  to  assume  what  is  utterly  unreasonable  and  contrary  to 
facts.  Large  bodies  move  slowly.  Individuals  may  be  con- 
verted on  the  instant  and  change  their  whole  course  of  life. 
Nations  never.  Time  and  events  are  required  for  the  conver- 
sion of  nations.  Not  even  the  character  of  a  great  political  or- 
ganization can  be  changed  by  a  new  platform.  It  will  be  the 
same  old  snake  though  in  a  new  skin.  Though  we  have  had  war, 
reconstruction  and  abolition  as  a  nation,  we  still  linger  in  the 
shadow  and  blight  of  an  extinct  institution.  Though  the 
colored  man  is  no  longer  subject  to  be  bought  and  sold,  he 
s  still  surrounded  by  an  adverse  sentiment  which  fetters 
all  his  movements.  In  his  downward  course  he  meets  with 
no  resistance,  but  his  course  upward  is  resented  and  resisted 
at  every  step  of  his  progress.  If  he  comes  in  ignorance, 
rags,  and  wretchedness,  he  conforms  to  the  popular  belief 
of  his  character,  and  in  that  character  he  is  welcome.  But 
if  he  shall  come  as  a  gentleman,  a  scholar,  and  a  statesman, 
he  is  hailed  as  a  contradiction  to  the  national  faith  concern- 
ing his  race,  and  his  coming  is  resented  as  impudence.  In 
the  one  case  he  may  provoke  contempt  and  derision,  but  in 
the  other  he  is  an  affront  to  pride,  and  provokes  malice.  Le.t 
him  do  what  he  will,  there  is  at  present,  therefore,  no  escape 
for  him.  The  color  line  meets  him  everywhere,  and  in  a 
measure  shuts  him  out  from  all  respectable  and  profitable 

trades  and  callings.  In  spite  of  all  your  religion  and  laws 
he  is  a  rejected  man. 

He  is  rejected  by  trade  unions,  of  every  trade,  and  refused 
work  while  he  lives,  and  burial  when  he  dies,  and  yet  he  is 
asked  to  forget  his  color,  and  forget  that  which  everybody 
else  remembers.  If  he  offers  himself  to  a  builder  as  a  me- 
chanic, to  a  client  as  a  lawyer,  to  a  patient  as  a  physician,  to 
a  college  as  a  professor,  to  a  'firm  as  a  clerk,  to  a  Govern- 
ment Department  as  an  agent,  or  an  officer,  he  is  sternly  met 
on  the  color  line,  and  his  claim  to  consideration  in  some  way 
is  disputed  on  the  ground  of  color. 

Not  even  our  churches,  whose  members  profess  to  fol- 
low the  despised  Nazarene,  whose  home,  when  on  earth, 
was  among  the  lowly  and  despised,  have  yet  conquered  this 
feeling  of  color  madness,  and  what  is  true  of  our  churches  is 
also  true  of  our  courts  of  law.  Neither  is  free  from  this  all- 
pervading  atmosphere  of  color  hate.  The  one  describes  the 
Deity  as  impartial,  no  respecter  of  persons,  and  the  other  the 
Goddess  of  Justice  as  blindfolded,  with  sword  by  her  side 
and  scales  in  her  hand  held  evenly  between  high  and  low, 
rich  and  poor,  white  and  black,  but  both  are  the  images  of 
American  imagination,  rather  than  American  practices. 

Taking  advantage  of  the  general  disposition  in  this  coun- 
try to  impute  crime  to  color,  white  men  color  their  faces  to 
commit  crime  and  wash  off  the  hated  color  to  escape  punish- 
ment. In  many  places  where  the  commission  of  crime  is  al- 
leged against  one  of  our  color,  the  ordinary  processes  of  the 
law  are  set  aside  as  too  slow  for  the  impetuous  justice  of  the 
infuriated  populace.  They  take  the  law  into  their  own  bloody 
hands  and  proceed  to  whip,  stab,  shoot,  hang,  or  burn  the  al- 
leged culprit,  without  the  intervention  of  courts,  counsel, 
judges,  juries,  or  witnesses.  In  such  cases  it  is  not  the  busi- 
ness of  the  accusers  to  prove  guilt,  but  it  is  for  the  accused 
to  prove  his  innocence,  a  thing  hard  for  any  man  to  do,. even 
in  a  court  of  law,  and  utterly  impossible  for  him  to  do  in  these 
infernal  Lynch  courts.  A  man  accused,  surprised,  frightened 
and  captured  by  a  motley  crowd,  dragged  with  a  rope  about 
his  neck  in  midnight-darkness  to  the  nearest  tree,  and  told  in 
the  coarsest  terms  of  profanity  to  prepare  for  death,  would 
be  more  than  human  if  he  did  not,  in  his  terror-stricken  ap- 
pearance, morb  confirm  suspicion  of  guilt  than  the  contrary. 
Worse  still,  in  the  presence  of  such  hell-black  outrages,  the 
pulpit  is  usually  dumb,  and  the  press  in  the  neighborhood  is 


silent  or  openly  takes  side  with  the  mob.  There  are 
occasional  cases  in  which  white  men  are  lynched,  but  one 
sparrow  does  not  make  a  summer.  Every  one  knows  that 
what  is  called  Lynch  law  is  peculiarly  the  law  for  colored 
people  and  for  nobody  else.  If  there  were  no  other  griev- 
ance than  this  horrible  and  barbarous  Lynch  law  custom, 
we  should  be  justified  in  assembling,  as  we  have  now 
done,  to  expose  and  denounce  it.  But  this  is  not  all. 
Even  now,  after  twenty  years  of  so-called  emancipation, 
we  are  subject  to  lawless  raids  of  midnight  riders, 
who,  with  blackened  faces,  invade  our  homes  and  perpetrate 
the  foulest  of  crimes  upon  us  and  our  families.  This  con- 
dition of  things  is  too  flagrajut  and  notorious  to  require 
specifications  or  proof.  Thusjin  all  the  relations  of  life  and 
death  we  are  met  by  the  color  line.  We  cannot  ignore  it  if 
we  would,  and  ought  not  if  we  could.  It  hunts  us  at  mid- 
night, it  denies  us  accommodation  in  hotels  and  justice  in 
the  courts ;  excludes  our  children  from  schools,  refuses  our 
sons  the  chance  to  learn  trades,  and  compels  us  to  pursue 
only  such  labor  as  will  bring  the  least  reward.  While  we  rec- 
ognize the  color  line  as  a  hurtful  force,  a  mountain  barrier  to 
our  progress,  wounding  our  bleeding  feet  with  its  flinty  rocks 
at  every  step,  we  do  not  despair.  We  are  a  hopeful  people. 
This  convention  is  a  proof  of  our  faith  in  you,  in  reason,  in 
truth  and  justice — our  belief  that  prejudice,  with  all  its  ma- 
lign accompaniments,  may  yet  be  removed  by  peaceful  means  ; 
that,  assisted  by  time  and  events  and  'the  growing  enlighten- 
ment of  both  races,  the  color  line  will  ultimately  become 
harmless.  When  this  shall  come  it  will  then  only  be  used,  as 
it  should  be,  to  distinguish  one  variety  of  the  human  family 
from  another.  It  will  cease  to  have  any  civil,  political,  or 
moral  significance,  and  colored  conventions  will  then  be  dis- 
pensed with  as  anachronisms,  wholly  out  of  place,  but  not 
till  then.  Do  not  marvel  that  we  are  not  discouraged.  The 
faith  within  us  has  a  rational  basis,  and  is  confirmed  by  facts. 
When  we  consider  how  deep-seated  this  feeling  against  us  is ; 
the  long  centuries  it  has  been  forming ;  the  forces  of  avarice 
which  have  been  marshaled  to  sustain  it ;  how  the  language 
and  literature  of  the  country  have  been  pervaded  with  it ; 
how  the  church,  the  press,  the  play-house,  and  other  influ- 
ences of  the  country  have  been  arrayed  in  its  support,  the 
.progress  toward  its  extinction  must  be  considered  vast  and 
wonderful.;  • 


If  liberty,  with  us,  is  yet  but  a  name,  our  citizenship  is 
but  a  sham,  and  our  suffrage  thus  far  only  a  cruel  mockery, 
we  may  yet  congratulate  ourselves  upon  the  fact  that  the 
laws  and  institutions  of  the  country  are  sound,  just  and  lib- 
eral. There  is  hope  for  a  people  when  their  laws  are  righteous 
whether  for  the  moment  they  conform  to  their  requirements 
or  not.  But  until  this  nation  shall  make  its  practice  accord 
with  its  Constitution  and  its  righteous  laws,  it  will  not  do  to 
reproach  the  colored  people  of  this  country  with  keeping  up 
the  color  line — for  that  people  would  prove  themselves  scarcely 
worthy  of  even  theoretical  freedom,  to  say  nothing  of  practical 
freedom,  if  they  settled  down  in  silent,  servile  and  cowardly 
submission  to  their  wrongs,  from  fear  of  making  their  color 
visible.  They  are  bound  by  every  element  of  manhood  to 
hold  conventions  in  their  own  name  and  on  their  own  behalf, 
to  keep  their  grievances  before  the  people  and  make  every 
organized  protest  against  the  wrongs  inflicted  upon  them 
within  their  power.  They  should  scorn  the  counsels  of  cow- 
ards, and  hang  their  banner  on  the  outer  wall.  Who  would 
be  free,  themselves  must  strike  the  blow.  "We  do  not  believe, 
as  we  are  often  told,  that  the  negro  is  the  ugly  child  of 
the  national  family,  and  the  more  he  is  kept  out  of  sight 
the  better  it  will  be  for  him.  You  know  that  liberty  given  is 
never  so  precious  as  liberty  sought  for  and  fought  for.  The 
man  outraged  is  the  man  to  make  the  outcry.  Depend  upon 
it,  men  will  not  care  much  for  a  people  who  do  not  care  for 
themselves.  Our  meeting  here  was  opposed  by  some  of  our 
members,  because  it  would  disturb  the  peace  of  the  Kepub- 
lican  party.  The  suggestion  came  from  coward  lips  and  mis- 
apprehended the  character  of  that  party.  If  the  Republican 
party  cannot  stand  a  demand  for  justice  and  fair  play,  it 
ought  to  go  down.  We  were  men  before  that  party  was  born, 
and  our  manhood  is  more  sacred  than  any  party  can  be. 
Parties  were  made  for  men,  not  men  for  parties. 

If  the  six  millions  of  colored  people  of  this  country, 
armed  with  the  Constitution  of  the  United  States,  with  a 
million  votes  of  their  own  to  lean  upon,  and  millions  of 
white  men  at  their  back,  whose  hearts  are  responsive  to  the 
claims  of  humanity,  have  not  sufficient  spirit  and  wisdom  to 
organize  and  combine  to  defend  themselves  from  outrage, 
discrimination,  and  oppression,  it  will  be  idle  for  them  to  ex- 
pect that  the  Republican  party  or  any  other  political  party 
will  organize  and  combine  for  them  or  care  what  becomes  of 


them.  Men  may  combine  to  prevent  cruelty  to  animals,  for 
they  are  dumb  and  cannot  speak  for  themselves  ;  but  we  are 
men  and  must  speak  for  ourselves,  or  we  shall  not  be  spoken 
for  at  all.  We  have  conventions  in  America  for  Ireland,  but 
we  should  have  none  if  Ireland  did  not  speak  for  herself.  It 
is  because  she  makes  a  noise  and  keeps  her  cause  before  the 
people  that  other  people  go  to  her  help.  It  was  the  sword 
of  Washington  and  of  Lafayette  that  gave  us  Independence. 
In  conclusion  upon  this  color  objection,  we  have  to  say  that 
we  meet  here  in  open  daylight.  There  is  nothing  sinister 
about  us.  The  eyes  of  the  nation  are  upon  us.  Ten  thou- 
sand newspapers  may  tell  if  they  choose  of  whatever  is  said 
and  done  here.  They  may  commend  our  wisdom  or  condemn 
our  folly,  precisely  as  we  shall  be  wise  or  foolish. 

We  put  ourselves  before  them  as  honest  men,  and  ask  their 
judgment  upon  our  work. 


Not  the  least  important  among  the  subjects  to  which  we 
invite  your  earnest  attention  is  the  condition  of  the  labor 
class  at  the  South.  Their  cause  is  one  with  the  labor 
classes  all  over  the  world.  The  labor  unions  of  the  country 
should  not  throw  away  this  colored  element  of  strength. 
Everywhere  there  is  dissatisfaction  with  the  present  relation 
of  labor  and  capital,  and  to-day  no  subject  wears  an  aspect 
more  threatening  to  civilization  than  the  respective  claims  of 
capital  and  labor,  landlords  and  tenants.  In  what  we  have 
to  say  for  our  laboring  class  we  expect  to  have  and  ought  to 
have  the  sympathy  and  support  of  laboring  men  everywhere 
and  of  every  color. 

It  is  a  great  mistake  for  any  class  of  laborers  to  isolate  it- 
self and  thus  weaken  the  bond  of  brotherhood  between  those 
on  whom  the  burden  and  hardships  of  labor  fall.  The  for- 
tunate ones  of  the  earth,  who  are  abundant  in  land  and  money 
and  know  nothing  of  the  anxious  care  and  pinching  poverty 
of  the  laboring  classes,  may  be  indifferent  to  the  appeal  for 
justice  at  this  point,  but  the  laboring  classes  cannot  afford  to  be 
indifferent.  What  labor  everywhere  wants,  what  it  ought  to 
have,  and  will  some  day  demand  and  receive,  is  an  honest 
day's  pay  for  an  honest  day's  work.  As  the  laborer  becomes 
more  intelligent  he  will  develop  what  capital  he  already  pos- 
sesses— that  is  the  power  to  organize  and  combine  for  its  own 
protection.  Experience  demonstrates  that  there  may  be  a 


wages  of  slavery  only  a  little  less  galling  and  crushing  in  its 
effects  than  chattel  slavery,  and  that  this  slavery  of  wages 
must  go  down  with  the  other. 

There  is  nothing  more  common  now  than  the  remark  that 
the  physical  condition  of  the  freedmen  of  the  South  is  im- 
measurably worse  than  in  the  time  of  slavery  ;  that  in  respect 
to  food,  clothing  and  shelter  they  are  wretched,  miserable 
and  destitute ;  that  they  are  worse  masters  to  themselves 
than  their  old  masters  were  to  them.  To  add  insult  to  injury, 
the  reproach  of  their  condition  is  charged  upon  themselves. 
A  grandson  of  John  C.  Calhoun,  an  Arkansas  land-owner, 
testifying  the  other  day  before  the  Senate  Committee  of  La- 
bor and  Education,  says  the  "  negroes  are  so  indolent  that 
they  fail  to  take  advantage  of  the  opportunities  offered  them  ; 
that  they  will  only  devote  so  much  of  their  time  to  work  as 
will  enable  them  to  procure  the  necessities  of  life  ;  that  there 
is  danger  of  a  war  of  races,"  etc.,  etc. 

His  testimony  proclaims  him  the  grandson  of  the  man 
whose  name  he  bears.  The  blame  which  belongs  to  his  own 
class  he  shifts  from  them  to  the  shoulders  of  labor.  It  be- 
comes us  to  test  the  truth  of  that  assertion  by  the  light  of 
reason,  and  by  appeals  to  indisputable  facts.  Of  course  the 
land-owners  of  the  South  may  be  expected  to  view  things 
differently  from  the  landless.  The  slaveholders  always  did 
look  at  things  a  little  differently  from  the  slaves,  and  we 
therefore  insist  that,  in  order  that  the  whole  truth  shall  be 
brought  out,  the  laborer  as  well  as  the  capitalist  shall  be 
called  as  witnesses  before  the  Senate  Committee  of  Labor 
and  Education.  Experience  proves  that  it  takes  more  than 
one  class  of  people  to  tell  the  whole  truth  about  matters  in 
Avhich  they  are  interested  on  opposite  sides,  and  we  protest 
against  the  allowance  of  only  one  side  of  the  labor  question 
to  be  heard  by  the  country  in  this  case.  Meanwhile,  a  little 
reason  and  reflection  will  in  some  measure  bring  out  truth ! 
The  colored  people  of  the  South  are  the  laboring  people  of 
the  South.  ^The  labor  of  a  country  is  the  source  of  its  wealth ; 
without  the  colored  laborer  to-day  the  South  would  be  a 
howling  wilderness,  given  up  to  bats,  owls,  wolves,  and  bears. 
He  was  the  source  of  its  wealth  before  the  war,  and  has  been 
the  source  of  its  prosperity  since  the  war.  He  almost  alone 
is  visible  in  her  fields,  with  implements  of  toil  in  his  hands, 
and  laboriously  using  them  to-day. 

Let  us  look  candidly  at  the  matter.     While  we  see  and  hear 


that  the  South  is  more  prosperous  than  it  ever  was  before  and 
rapidly  recovering  from  the  waste  of  war,  while  we  read  that 
it  raises  more  cotton,  sugar,  rice,  tobacco,  corn,  and  other  val- 
uable products  than  it  ever  produced  before,  how  happens  it, 
we  sternly  ask,  that  the  houses  of  its  laborers  are  miserable 
huts,  that  their  clothes  are  rags,  and  their  food  the  coarsest 
and  scantiest  ?  How  happens  it  that  the  land-owner  is  be- 
coming richer  and  the  laborer  poorer  ? 

The  implication  is  irresistible — that  where  the  landlord  is 
prosperous  the  laborer  ought  to  share  his  prosperity,  and 
whenever  and  wherever  we  find  this  is  not  the  case  there  is 
manifestly  wrong  somewhere. 

This  sharp  contrast  of  wealth  and  poverty,  as  every 
thoughtful  man  knows,  can  exist  only  in  one  way,  and  from 
one  cause,  and  that  is  by  one  getting  more  than  its  proper 
share  of  the  reward  of  industry,  and  the  other  side  getting 
less,  and  that  in  some  way  labor  has  been  defrauded  or  other- 
\/\  wise  denied  of  its  due  proportion,  and  we  think  the  facts,  as 
uwell  as  this  philosophy,  will  support  this  view  in  the  present 
case,  and  do  so  conclusively.  We  utterly  deny  that  the  col- 
ored people  of  the  South  are  too  lazy  to  work,  or  that  they 
are  indifferent  to  their  physical  wants  ;  as  already  said,  they 
are  the  workers  of  that  section. 

The  trouble  is  not  that  the  colored  people  of  the  South 
are  indolent,  but  that  no  matter  how'  hard  or  how  persistent 
may  be  their  industry,  they  get  barely  enough  for  their  labor 
to  support  life  at  the  very  low  point  at  which  we  find  them. 
We  therefore  throw  off  the  burden  of  disgrace  and  reproach 
from  the  laborer  where  Mr.  Calhoun  and  others  of  his  class 
would  place  it,  and  put  it  on  the  land-owner  where  it  belongs. 
It  is  the  old  case  over  again.  The  black  man  does  the  work 
and  the  white  man  gets  the  money. 

It  may  be  said  after  all  the  colored  people  have  themselves 
to  blame  for  this  state  of  things,  because  they  have  not  intel- 
ligently taken  the  matter  into  their  own  hands  and  provided 
a  remedy  for  the  evil  they  suffer. 

Some  blame  may  attach  at  this  point.  But  those  who  re- 
proach us  thus  should  remember  that  it  is  hard  for  labor, 
however  fortunately  and  favorably  surrounded,  to  cope  with 
the  tremendous  power  of  capital  in  any  contest  for  higher 
wages  or  improved  condition.  A  strike  for  higher  wages  is 
seldom  successful,  and  is  often  injurious  to  the  strikers  ;  the 
losses  sustained  are  seldom  compensated  by  the  concessions 


gained.  A  case  in  point  is  the  recent  strike  of  the  telegraph 
operators — a  more  intelligent  class  can  nowhere  be  found. 
It  was  a  contest  of  brains  against  money,  and  the  want  of 
money  compelled  intelligence  to  surrender  to  wealth. 

An  empty  sack  is  not  easily  made  to  stand  upright.  The 
man  who  has  it  in  his  power  to  say  to  a  man,  you  must  work 
the  land  for  me  for  such  wages  as  I  choose  to  give,  has  a 
power  of  slavery  over  him  as  real,  if  not  as  complete,  as  he 
who  compels  toil  under  the  lash.  All  that  a  man  hath  will 
he  give  for  his  life. 

In  contemplating  the  little  progress  made  by  the  colored 
people  in  the  acquisition  of  property  in  the  South,  and  their 
present  wretched  condition,  the  circumstances  of  their  eman- 
cipation should  not  be  forgotten.  Measurement  in  their  case 
should  not  begin  from  the  height  yet  to  be  attained  by  them, 
but  from  the  depths  whence  they  have  come. 

It  should  be  remembered  by  our  severe  judges  that  free- 
dom came  to  us  not  from  the  sober  dictates  of  wisdom,  or 
from  any  normal  condition  of  things,  not  as  a  matter  of  choice 
on  the  part  of  the  land-owners  of  the  South,  nor  from  moral 
considerations  on  the  part  of  the  North.  It  was  born  of 
battle  and  of  blood.  It  came  across  fields  of  smoke  and  fire 
strewn  with  wounded,  bleeding,  and  dying  men.  Not  from 
the  Heaven  of  Peace  amid  the  morning  stars,  but  from 
the  hell  of  war — out  of  the  tempest  and  whirlwind  of  warlike 
passions,  mingled  with  deadly  hate  and  a  spirit  of  revenge  ; 
it  came,  not  so  much  as  a  boon  to  us  as  a  blast  to  the  enemy. 
Those  against  whom  the  measure  was  directed  were  the  land- 
owners, and  they  were  not  angels,  but  men,  and,  being  men, 
it  was  to  be  expected  they  would  resent  the  blow.  They  did 
resent  it,  and  a  part  of  that  resentment  unhappily  fell  upon  us. 

At  first  the  land- owners  drove  us  out  of  our  old  quarters, 
and  told  us  they  did  not  want  us  in  their  fields ;  that  they 
meant  to  import  German,  Irish,  and  Chinese  laborers.  But 
as  the  passions  of  the  war  gradually  subsided  we  were  taken 
back  to  our  old  places ;  but,  plainly  enough,  this  change  of 
front  was  not  from  choice,  but  necessity.  Feeling  themselves 
somehow  or  other  entitled  to  our  labor  without  the  payment 
of  wages,  it  was  not  strange  that  they  should  make  the  hard- 
est bargains  for  our  labor,  and  get  it  for  as  little  as  possible. 
For  them  the  contest  was  easy ,  their  tremendous  power  and 
our  weakness  easily  gave  them  the  victory. 

Against  the  voice  of  Stevens,  Sumner,  and  Wade,  and  other 


farseeing  statesmen,  the  Government  by  whom  we  were  eman- 
cipated left  us  completely  in  the  power  of  our  former  owners. 
They  turned  us  loose  to  the  open  sky  and  left  us  not  a  foot  of 
ground  from  which  to  get  a  crust  of  bread. 

It  did  not  do  as  well  by  us  as  Kussia  did  by  her  serfs,  or 
Pharaoh  did  by  the  Hebrews.  With  freedom  Kussia  gave 
land  and  Egypt  loaned  jewels. 

It  may  have  been  best  to  leave  us  thus  to  make  terms  with 
those  whose  wrath  it  had  kindled  against  us.  It  does  not  seem 
right  that  we  should  have  been  so  left,  but  it  fully  explains  our 
present  poverty  and  wretchedness. 

The  marvel  is  not  that  we  are  poor  in  such  circumstances, 
but  rather  that  we  were  not  exterminated.  In  view  of  the  cir- 
cumstances, our  extermination  was  confidently  predicted.  ,The 
facts  that  we  still  live  and  have  increased  in  higher  ratio  than 
the  native  white  people  of  the  South  are  proofs  of  our  vital- 
ity, and,  in  some  degree,  of  our  industry. 

.  r-  Nor  is  it  to  be  wondered  at  that  the  standard  of  morals  is 
not  higher  among  us,  that  respect  for  the  rights  of  property 
is  not  stronger.  The  power  of  life  and  death  held  over  labor 
which  says  you  shall  work  for  me  on  my  own  terms  or  starve, 
is  a  source  of  crime,  as  well  as  poverty. 

Weeds  do  not  more  naturally  spring  out  of  a  manure  pile 
than  crime 'out  of  enforced  destitution.  Out  of  the  misery 
of  Ireland  comes  murder,  assassination,  fire,  and  sword.  The 
Irish  are  by  nature  no  worse  than  other  people,  and  no  bet- 
ter. If  oppression  makes  a  wise  man  mad  it  may  do  the  same, 
and  worse,  to  a  people  who  are  not  reputed  wise.  The  woe 
pronounced  upon  those  who  keep  back  wages  of  the  laborer 
by  fraud  is  self-acting  and  self-executing  and  certain  as  death. 
The  world  is  full  of  warnings. 


No  more  crafty  and  effective  devise  for  defrauding  the 
southern  laborers  could  be  adopted  than  the  one  that  sub- 
stitutes orders  upon  shopkeepers  for  currency  in  payment  of 
wages.  It  has  the  merit  of  a  show  of  honesty,  while  it  puts 
the  laborer  completely  at  the  mercy  of  the  land-owner  and 
the  shopkeeper.  He  is  between  the  upper  and  the  nether 
millstones,  and  is  hence  ground  to  dust.  It  gives  the  shop- 
keeper a  customer  who  can  trade  with  no  other  storekeeper, 
and  thus  leaves  the  latter  no  motive  for  fair  dealing  except 
his  own  moral  sense,  which  is  never  too  strong.  While  the 

17    . 


laborer  holding  the  orders  is  tempted  by  their  worthlessness, 
as  a  circulating  medium,  to  get  rid  of  them  at  any  sacrifice, 
and  hence  is  led  into  extravagance  and  consequent  destitu- 

The*  merchant  puts  him  off  with  his  poorest  commodities 
at  highest  prices,  and  can  say  to  him  take  these  or  nothing. 
Worse  still.  By  this  means  the  laborer  is  brought  into  debt, 
and  hence  is  kept  always  in  the  power  of  the  land-owner. 
When  this  system  is  not  pursued  and  land  is  rented  to  the 
freedman,  he  is  charged  more  for  the  use  of  an  acre  of  land 
for  a  single  year  than  the  land  would  bring  in  the  market  if 
offered  for  sale.  On  such  a  system  of  fraud  and  wrong  one 
might  well  invoke  a  bolt  from  heaven — red  with  uncommon 

It  is  said  if  the  colored  people  do  not  like  the  conditions 
upon  which  their  labor  is  demanded  and  secured,  let  them 
leave  and  go  elsewhere.  A  more  heartless  suggestion  never 
emanated  from  an  oppressor.  Having  for  years  paid  them  in 
shop  orders,  utterly  worthless  outside  the  shop  to  which  they 
are  directed,  without  a  dollar  in  their  pockets,  brought  by 
this  crafty  process  into  bondage  to  the  land-owners,  who  can 
and  would  arrest  them  if  they  should  attempt  to  leave  when 
they  are  told  to  go. 

We  commend  the  whole  subject  to  the  Senate  Committee 
of  Labor  and  Education,  and  urge  upon  that  committee  the 
duty  to  call  before  it  not  only  the  land-owners,  but  the  land- 
less laborers  of  the  South,  and  thus  get  at  the  whole  truth 
concerning  the  labor  question  of  that  section. 


On  the  subject  of  equal  education  and  educational  facili- 
ties, mentioned  in  the  call  for  this  convention,  we  expect  lit- 
tle resistance  from  any  quarter.  It  is  everywhere  an  accepted 
truth,  that  in  a  country  governed  by  the  people,  like  ours,  edu- 
cation of  the  youth  of  all  classes  is  vital  to  its  welfare,  pros- 
perity, and  to  its  existence. 

In  the  light  of  this  unquestioned  proposition,  the  patriot 
cannot  but  view  with  a  shudder  the  widespread  and  truly 
alarming  illiteracy  as  revealed  by  the  census  of  1880. 

The  question  as  to  how  this  evil  is  to  be  remedied  is  an  im- 
portant one.  Certain  it  is  that  it  will  not  do  to  trust  to  the  phil- 
anthropy of  wealthy  individuals  or  benevolent  societies  to  re- 
move it.  The  States  in  which  this  illiteracy  prevails  either 


can  not  or  will  not  provide  adequate  systems  of  education 
for  their  own  youth.  But,  however  this  may  be,  the  fact  re- 
mains that  the  whole  country  is  directly  interested  in  the 
education  of  every  child  that  lives  within  its  borders.  The 
ignorance  of  any  part  of , the  American  people  so  deeply  con- 
cerns all  the  rest  that  there  can  be  no  doubt  of  the  right  to 
pass  laws  compelling  the  attendance  of  every  child  at  school. 
Believing  that  such  is  now  required  and  ought  to  be  enacted, 
we  hereby  put  ourselves  on  record  in  favor  of  stringent  laws 
to  this  end. 

In  the  presence  of  this  appalling  picture,  presented  by  the 
last  census,  we  hold  it  to  be  the  imperative  duty  of  Congress 
to  take  hold  of  this  important  subject,  and,  without  waiting 
for  the  States  to  adopt  liberal  school  systems  within  their 
respective  jurisdictions,  to  enter  vigorously  upon  the  work  of 
universal  education. 

The  National  Government,  with  its  immense  resources,  can 
carry  the  benefits  of  a  sound  common-school  education  to 
the  door  of  every  poor  man  from  Maine  to  Texas,  and  to  with- 
hold this  boon  is  to  neglect  the  greatest  assurance  it  has  of 
its  own  perpetuity.  As  a  part  of  the  American  people  we 
unite  most  emphatically  with  others  who  have  already 
spoken  on  this  subject,  in  urging  Congress  to  lay  the  foun- 
dation of  a  great  national  system  of  aid  to  education  at  its 
next  session. 

In  this  connection,  and  as  germane  to  the  subject  of  edu- 
cation under  national  auspices,  we  would  most  respectfully 
and  earnestly  request  Congress  to  authorize  the  appointment 
of  a  commission  of  three  or  more  persons  of  suitable  char- 
acter and  qualifications  to  ascertain  the  legal  claimants,  as 
far  as  they  can,  to  a  large  fund  now  in  the  United  States 
treasury,  appropriated  for  the  payment  of  bounties  of  col- 
ored soldiers  and  sailors  ;  and  to  provide  by  law  that  at  the 
expiration  of  three  or  five  years  the  balance  remaining  in  the 
treasury  be  distributed  among  the  colored  colleges  of  the 
country,  giving  the  preference  as  to  amounts  to  the  schools 
that  are  doing  effective  work  in  industrial  branches. 


The  colored  people  have  suffered  much  on  account  of  the 
failure  of  the  Freedman's  bank.  Their  loss  by  this  institu- 
tion was  a  peculiar  hardship,  qoming  as  it  did  upon  them  in 
the  days  of  their  greatest  weakness.  It  is  certain  that  the 


depositors  in  this  institution  were  led  to  believe  that  as  Con- 
gress had  chartered  it  and  established  its  headquarters  at  the 
capital  the  Government  in  some  way  was  responsible  for  the 
safe  keeping  of  their  money. 

Without  the  dissemination  of  this  belief  it  would  never 
have  had  the  confidence  of  the  people  as  it  did  nor  have 
secured  such  an  immense  deposit.  Nobody  authorized  to 
speak  for  the  Government  ever  corrected  this  deception,  but 
on  the  contrary,  Congress  continued  to  legislate  for  the  bank 
as  if  all  that  had  been  claimed  for  it  was  true. 

Under  these  circumstances,  together  with  much  more  that 
might  be  said  in  favor  of  such  a  measure,  we  ask  Congress 
to  reimburse  the  unfortunate  victims  of  that  institution,  and 
thus  carry  hope  and  give  to  many  fresh  encouragement  in  the 
battle  of  life. 


We  desire,  also,  to  call  the  attention  of  Congress  and  the 
country  to  the  bounty  and  pension  laws  and  to  the  filing  of 
original  claims.  We  ask  for  the  passage  of  an  act  extending 
the  time  for  filing  original  claims  beyond  the  present  limit. 

This  we  do  for  the  reason  that  many  of  the  soldiers  and 
sailors  that  served  in  the  war  of  the  rebellion  and  their  heirs, 
and  especially  colored  claimants  living  in  parts  of  the  country 
where  they  have  but  meagre  means  of  information,  have  been, 
and  still  are,  ignorant  of  their  rights  and  the  methods  of 
enforcing  them. 

But  while  we  urge  these  duties  on  Congress  and  the  coun- 
try, we  must  never  forget  that  any  race  worth  living  will  live, 
and  whether  Congress  heeds  our  request  in  these  and  other 

Particulars  or  not,  we  must  demonstrate  our  capacity  to  live 
y  living.     We  must  acquire  property  and  educate  the  hands 
and  hearts  and  heads  of  our  children  whether  we  are  helped 
or  not.     Races  that  fail  to  do  these  things  die  politically  and 
socially,  and  are  only  fit  to  die. 

One  great  source  of  independence  that  has  been  sought 
by  multitudes  of  our  white  fellow-citizens  is  still  open  to  us — 
we  refer  to  the  public  lands  in  the  great  West.  The  amazing 
rapidity  with  which  the  public  lands  are  being  taken  up  warns 
us  that  we  must  lay  hold  of  this  opportunity  soon,  or  it  will 
be  gone  forever.  The  Government  gives  to  every  actual  settler, 
under  certain  conditions,  160  acres  of  land.  By  addressing 
a  letter  to  the  United  States  Land  Office,  Washington,  D. 


C.,  any  person  will  receive  full  information  in  regard  to  this 
subject.  Thousands  of  white  men  have  settled  on  these 
lands  with  scarcely  any  money  beyond  their  immediate  wants, 
and  in  a  few  years  have  found  themselves  the  lords  of  a  160 
acre  farm.  Let  us  do  likewise. 


The  right  of  every  American  citizen  to  select  his  own 
society  and  invite  whom  he  will  to  his  own  parlor  and  table 
should  be  sacredly  respected.  A  man's  house  is  his  castle, 
and  he  has  a  right  to  admit  or  refuse  admission  to  it  as  he 
may  please,  and  defend  his  house  from  all  intruders  even 
with  force,  if  need  be.  This  right  belongs  to  the  humblest 
not  less  than  the  highest,  and  the  exercise  of  it  by  any  of 
our  citizens  toward  anybody  or  class  who  may  presume  to 
intrude,  should  cause  no  complaint,  for  each  and  all  may  ex- 
ercise the  same  right  toward  whom  he  will. 
"When  he  quits  his  home  and  goes  upon  the  public  street, 
enters  a  public  car  or  a  public  house,  he  has  no  exclusive  right 
of  occupancy.  He  is  only  a  part  of  the  great  public,  and 
while  he  has  the  right  to  walk,  ride,  and  be  accommodated 
with  food  and  shelter  in  a  public  conveyance  or  hotel,  he 
has  no  exclusive  right  to  say  that  another  citizen,  tall  or 
short,  black  or  white,  shall  not  have  the  same  civil  treatment 
with  himself.  The  argument  against  equal  rights  at  hotels  is 
very  improperly  put  upon  the  ground  that  the  exercise  of  such 
rights,  it  is  insisted,  is  social  equality.  But  this  ground  is  un- 
reasonable. It  is  hard  to  say  what  social  equality  is,  but  it 
is  certain  that  going  into  the  same  street  car,  hotel,  or  steam- 
boat cabin  does  not  make  any  man  society  for  another  any 
more  than  flying  in  the  same  air  makes  all  birds  of  one  feather. 

Two  men  may  be  seated  at  the  same  table  at  a  hotel ;  one 
may  be  a  Webster  in  intellect,  and  the  other  a  Guiteau  in  fee- 
bleness of  mind  and  morals,  and,  of  course,  socially  and  intel- 
lectually, they  are  as  wide  apart  as  are  the  poles  of  the  moral 
universe,  but  their  civil  rights  are  the  same.  The  distinction 
between  the  two  sorts  of  equality  is  broad  and  plain  to  the 
understanding  of  the  most  limited,  and  yet,  blinded  by  preju- 
dice, men  never  cease  to  confound  one  with  the  other,  and 
allow  themselves  to  infringe  the  civil  rights  of  their  fellow- 
citizens  as  if  those  rights  were,  in  some  way,  in  violation  of 
their  social  rights. 

That  this  denial  of  rights  to  us  is  because  of  our  color,  only 


as  color  is  a  badge  of  condition,  is  manifest  in  the  fact  that  no 
matter  how  decently  dressed  or  well-behaved  a  colored  man 
may  be,  he  is  denied  civil  treatment  in  the  ways  thus  pointed 
out,  unless  he  comes  as  a  servant.  His  color,  not  his  char- 
acter, determines  the  place  he  shall  hold  and  the  kind  of 
treatment  he  shall  receive.  That  this  is  due  to  a  prejudice 
and  has  no  rational  principle  under  it  is  seen  in  the  fact  that 
the  presence  of  colored  persons  in  hotels  and  rail  cars  is 
only  offensive  when  they  are  there  as  guests  and  passengers. 
As  servants  they  are  welcome,  but  as  equal  citizens  they  arev, 
not.  It  is  also  seen  in  the  further  fact  that  nowhere 
else  on  the  globe,  except  in  the  United  States,  are  colored 
people  subject  to  insult  and  outrage  on  account  of  color. 
The  colored  traveler  in  Europe  does  not  meet  it,  and  we  de- 
nounce it  here  as  a  disgrace  to  American  civilization  and' 
American  religion  and  as  a  violation  of  the  spirit  and  letter 
of  the  Constitution  of  the  United  States.  From  those  courts 
which  have  solemnly  sworn  to  support  the  Constitution  and  that 
yet  treat  this  provision  of  it  with  contempt  we  appeal  to  the 
people,  and  call  upon  our  friends  to  remember  our  civil 
rights  at  the  ballot-box.  On  the  point  of  the  two  equalities 
we  are  determined  to  be  understood. 

We  leave  social  equality  where  it  should  be  left,  with  each 
individual  man  and  woman.  No  law  can  regulate  or  control 
it.  It  is  a  matter  with  which  governments  have  nothing  what- 
ever to  do.  Each  may  choose  his  own  friends  and  associates 
without  interference  or  dictation  of  any. 


Flagrant  as  have  been  the  outrages  committed  upon  col- 
ored citizens  in  respect  to  their  civil  rights,  more  flagrant, 
shocking,  and  scandalous  still  have  been  the  outrages  com- 
mitted upon  our  political  rights  by  means  of  bull-dozing  and 
Kukluxing,  Mississippi  plans,  fraudulent  counts,  tissue  bal- 
lots, and  the  like  devices.   Three  States  in  which  the  colored  ' 
people  outnumber  the  white  population  are  without  colored  \ 
representation  and  their  political  voice  suppressed.  The  col-  \ 
ored  citizens  in  those  States  are  virtually  disfranchised,  the 
Constitution  held  in  utter  contempt  and  its  provisions  nulli- 
fied.    This  has  been  done  in  the  face  of  the  Kepublican 
party  and  successive  Republican  administrations. 

It  was  once  said  by  the  great  O'Connell  that  the  history  of 
Ireland  might  be  traced  like  a  wounded  man  through  a  crowd 

by  the  blood,  and  the  same  may  be  truly  said  of  the  history 
of  the  colored  voters  of  the  South. 

They  have  marched  to  the  ballot-box  in  face  of  gleaming 
weapons,  wounds,  and  death.  They  have  been  abandoned 
by  the  Government,  and  left  to  the  laws  of  nature.  So  far 
as  they  are  concerned,  there  is  no  Government  or  Constitu- 
tion of  the  United  States. 

They  are  under  control  of  a  foul,  haggard,  and  damning 
conspiracy  against  reason,  law,  and  constitution.  How  you 
can  be  indifferent,  how  any  leading  colored  men  can  allow 
themselves  to  be  silent  in  presence  of  this  state  of  things,  we 
cannot  see. 

"  Should  tongues  be  mute  while  deeds  are  wrought  which 
well  might  shame  extremest  hell  ?  "  And  yet  they  are  mute, 
and  condemn  our  assembling  here  to  speak  out  in  manly 
tones  against  the  continuance  of  this  infernal  reign  of  terror. 

This  is  no  question  of  party.  It  is  a  question  of  law  and 
government.  It  is  a  question  whether  men  shall  be  protected 
by  law,  or  be  left  to  the  mercy  of  cyclones  of  anarchy  and 
bloodshed.  It  is  whether  the  Government  or  the  mob  shall 
rule  this  land  ;  whether  the  promises  solemnly  made  to  us  in 
the  Constitution  be  manfully  kept  or  meanly  and  flagrantly 
broken.  Upon  this  vital  point  we  ask  the  whole  people  of 
the  United  States  to  take  notice  that  whatever  of  political 
power  we  have  shall  be  exerted  for  no  man  of  any  party  who 
will  not,  in  advance  of  election,  promise  to  use  every  power 
given  him  by  the  Government,  State  or  National,  to  make  the 
black  man's  path  to  the  ballot-box  as  straight,  smooth  and 
safe  as  that  of  any  other  American  citizen. 


We  are  as  a  people  often  reproached  with  ambition  for 
political  offices  and  honors.  We  are  not  ashamed  of  this  al- 
leged ambition.  Our  destitution  of  such  ambition  would  be 
our  real  shame.  If  the  six  millions  and  a  half  of  people 
whom  we  represent  could  develop  no  aspirants  to  political 
office  and  honor  under  this  Government,  their  mental  indif- 
ference, barrenness  and  stolidity  might  well  enough  be  taken 
as  proof  of  their  unfitness  for  American  citizenship. 

It  is  no  crime  to  seek  or  hold  office.  If  it  were  it  would 
take  a  larger  space  than  that  of  Noah's  Ark  to  hold  the  white 

One  of  the  charges  against  this  convention  is  that  it  seeks 


for  the  colored  people  a  larger  share  than  they  now  possess 
in  the  offices  and  emoluments  of  the  Government. 

We  are  now  significantly  reminded  by  even  one  of  our  own . 
members  that  we  are  only  twenty  years  out  of  slavery,  and 
we  ought  therefore  to  be  modest  in  our  aspirations.  Such 
leaders  should  remember  that  men  will  not  be  religious  when 
the  devil  turns  preacher. 

The  inveterate  and  persistent  office-seeker  and  office-holder 
should  be  modest  when  he  preaches  that  virtue  to  others 
which  he  does  not  himself  practice.  Wolsey  could  not  tell 
Cromwell  to  fling  away  ambition  properly  only  when  he  had 
flung  away  his  own. 

We  are  far  from  affirming  that  there  may  not  be  too  much 
zeal  among  colored  men  in  pursuit  of  political  preferment ; 
but  the  fault  is  not  wholly  theirs.  They  have  young  men 
among  them  noble  and  true,  who  are  educated  and  intel- 
ligent— fit  to  engage  in  enterprise  of  "  pith  and  moment  "- 
who  find  themselves  shut  out  from  nearly  all  the  avenues  of 
wealth  and  respectability,  and  hence  they  turn  their  attention 
to  politics.  They  do  so  because  they  can  find  nothing  else. 
The  best  cure  for  the  evil  is  to  throw  open  other  avenues  and 
activities  to  them. 

We  shall  never  cease  to  be  a  despised  and  persecuted  class 
while  we  are  known  to  be  excluded  by  our  color  from  all  im- 
portant positions  under  the  Government. 

While  we  do  not  make  office  the  one  thing  important,  nor 
the  one  condition  of  our  alliance  with  any  party,  and  hold 
that  the  welfare,  prosperity  and  happiness  of  our  whole  coun- 
try is  the  true  criterion  of  political  action  for  ourselves  and 
for  all  men,  we  can  not  disguise  from  ourselves  the  fact  that 
our  persistent  exclusion  from  office  as  a  class  is*  a  great  wrong, 
fraught  with  injury,  and  ought  to  be  resented  and  opposed 
by  all  reasonable  and  effective  means  in  our  power. 

We  hold  it  to  be  self-evident  that  no  class  or  color  should 
be  the  exclusive  rulers  of  this  country.  If  there  is  such  a 
ruling  class,  there  must  of  course  be  a  subject  class,  and  when 
this  condition  is  once  established  this  Government  of  the  peo- 
ple, by  the  people,  and  for  the  people,  will  have  perished  from 
the  earth. 

IN  WASHINGTON,  D.  C.,  1885. 

On  being  introduced  by  Hon.  B.  K.  BRUCE,  on  the  occasion 
of  the  twenty -third  anniversary  of  the  abolition  of  slavery  in 
the  District  of  Columbia,  FREDERICK  DOUGLASS  spoke  as  fol- 
lows : 

FRIENDS  AND  FELLOW-CITIZENS  :  Your  committee  of  arrange- 
ments were  pleased  to  select  me  as  your  orator  of  the  day,  on 
an  occasion  similar  to  this,  two  years  ago  At  that  time, 
while  appreciating  the  honor  conferred  upon  me,  I  ventured 
to  express  the  wish  that  some  one  of  the  many  competent 
colored  young  men  of  this  city  and  District  had  been  chosen 
to  discharge  this  honorable  duty  in  my  stead.  There  were 
excellent  reasons  for  that  wish  then,  and  there  are  even  much 
better  reasons  for  the  same  wish  now.  Time  and  cultivation 
have  largely  added  to  the  number  of  those  from  whom  a  suit- 
able selection  might  have  been  made,  and  one  of  these  silent, 
yet  powerful,  agents  whose  mission  it  is  to  create  and  destroy 
all  things  mortal  has  left  me  much  less  desire  for  such  dis- 
tinguished service  now  than  two  years  ago.  Happily,  how- 
ever, the  burden  is  not  heavy  or  grievous,  and  the  proper 
story  of  this  occasion  is  simple,  familiar,  and  easily  told.  In 
observing  the  anniversary  of  the  abolition  of  slavery  in  the 
District  of  Columbia,  we  attract  the  attention  of  the  Ameri- 
can people  to  one  of  the  most  important  and  significant  events 
in  their  national  history,  and  at  the  same  time  evince  a  grate- 
ful and  proper  sense  of  the  wonderful  changes  for  the  better 
that  have  taken  place  in  our  condition,  and  in  that  of  the 
country  generally.  Though  in  its  immediate  and  legal  oper- 
ation this  act  of  emancipation  was  local  in  its  range  as  to 
territory,  and  limited  in  its  application  as  to  the  number  of 
persons  liberated  by  it,  morally  it  looms  upon  us  as  a  grand, 
comprehensive,  and  far-reaching  measure. 

To  appreciate  its  importance  we  must  not  consider  it  as  a 
single  independent  act  standing  alone,  nor  as  one  pertaining 
to  this  District  only,  nor  to  the  colored  people  only.  We 
must  regard  it  as  a  part  of  a  series  of  splendid  public  meas- 
ures, as  one  of  so  many  steps  in  the  national  progress  looking 
to  one  beneficent  and  glorious  result,  a  large  contribution  to  the 


honor  and  welfare  of  the  whole  country.  It  was  the  auspi- 
cious beginning  of  a  great  movement  in  the  councils  of  the  na- 
tion, made  necessary  by  the  war,  and  one  which  finally  cul- 
minated in  the  complete  and  permanent  abolition  of  slavery, 
not  only  in  the  District  of  Columbia,  but  in  every  part  of  the 
Republic.  Thus  viewed  it  was  the  one  act  which  broke  the 
gloomy  spell  that  bound  the  nation  in  the  bonds  of  servile, 
unnatural  reverence  and  awe  for  slavery.  It  withdrew  the 
sympathy  of  European  nations  from  the  rebellion  ;  it  brought 
the  moral  support  of  the  civilized  world  to  the  loyal  cause  ; 
it  erased  the  foulest  blot  that  ever  stained  our  national  escut- 
cheon ;  it  gave  to  the  war  for  the  Union  a  logical,  humane, 
and  consistent  purpose  ;  it  solved  a  problem  which  was  the 
standing  grief  of  good  men,  and  the  perplexity  of  statesmen 
for  ages  ;  it  gave  courage  and  hope  to  our  armies  in  the  field  ; 
it  weakened  the  rebellion  ;  it  raised  the  whole  nation  to  a 
higher  and  happier  plane  of  civilization,  and  placed  the 
American  people  where  they  never  were  before,  in  a  position 
where  they  could  consistently  and  effectively  preach  liberty 
to  all  the  nations  of  the  world. 

The  16th  of  April,  the  anniversary  of  this  great  act  of 
the  nation,  strangely  and  erroneously  enough  has  been  con- 
sidered simply  as  the  colored  man's  day  only.  The  business 
of  consecrating  and  preserving  its  memory  has  been,  by  com- 
mon consent,  relegated  to  him  exclusively.  But,  in  this,  our 
fellow-citizens  have  been  more  generous  to  us  than  just  to 
themselves.  Colored  men  have  very  little  more  reason  to 
hallow  this  day  than  have  white  men.  If  it  brought  freedom 
to  us,  it  brought  peace  and  safety  to  them,  and  hence  they 
may  well  enough  unite  in  this  and  similar  celebrations,  and 
regard  the  day  as  theirs  as  well  as  ours.  No  truth  taught  by 
our  national  history  is  more  evident  than  this,  that  while 
slavery  dominated  the  southern  half  of  the  Eepublic,  and  free 
institutions  prevailed  in  the  northern  half,  peace  and  har- 
mony between  the  two  sections  were  utterly  and  forever  im- 
possible. No  man  can  serve  two  masters,  and  the  attempt 
of  our  Government  to  do  this  was  a  stupendous  failure.  The 
union  between  liberty  and  slavery  was  a  marriage  without 
love,  a  house  divided  against  itself  ;  a  couple  unequally  yoked 
together,  held  together  by  external  force,  not  by  moral  cohe- 
sion ;  it  brought  happiness  to  neither,  and  misery  to  both. 

Like  any  other  embodiment  of  social  and  material  interest 
peculiar  to  a  given  community,  slavery  generated  its  own 


sentiments,  its  own  morals,  manners,  and  religion  ;  and  begot 
a  character  in  all  around  it  in  favor  of  its  own  existence. 

In  nearly  everything  indigenous  and  peculiar  to  society  in 
the  two  sections,  they  were  as  separate  and  distinct  as  are 
any  two  nations  on  the  globe.  The  longer  they  were  thus 
linked  together  in  the  bonds  of  outward  union,  the  more 
palpable  became  their  points  of  difference,  and  the  more  pas- 
sionate became  their  hostility  to  each  other.  Liberty  became 
more  and  more  the  glory  of  the  North,  and  slavery  more  and 
more  the  idol  of  the  South.  Not  even  the  bonds  of  Chris- 
tian fellowship  were  strong  enough  to  hold  together  the 
churches  of  the  two  sections. 

In  view  of  this  settled  and  growing  antagonism,  only  one 
of  three  courses  was  opened  to  the  nation  :  The  first  was  to 
make  the  country  all  slaves,  the  second  was  to  make  it  all 
free,  and  the  third  was  to  divide  the  Union,  and  let  each 
section  set  up  a  government  of  its  own — the  one  based  upon 
the  system  of  slavery,  and  the  other  based  upon  the  princi- 
ples of  the  Declaration  of  American  Independence. 

Thanks  to  the  wisdom,  loyalty,  patriotism,  courage,  and 
statesmanship  developed  by  the  crisis,  the  nation  rejected 
equally  the  idea  of  making  the  country  all  slaves,  and  permit- 
ting two  separate  nations,  with  hostile  civilizations,  side  by 
side,  with  a  chafing,  bloody  border  between  them,  but  chose 
to  give  us  one  country,  one  citizenship,  and  one  liberty  for 
all  the  people,  and  hence  we  are  here  this  evening.  There 
was  never  any  physical  reason  for  the  dissolution  of  the 
Union.  The  geographical  and  topographical  conditions  of 
the  country  all  served  to  unite  rather  than  to  divide  the  two 
sections.  It  was  moral  not  physical  dynamite  that  blew  the 
two  sections  asunder. 

We  are  told  by  the  poet  that — 

"  Lands  intersected  by  a  narrow  frith,  abhor  each  other ; 
Mountains  interposed  make  enemies  of  nations, 
Which  else,  like  kindred  drops,  had  mingled  into  one." 

But  in  this  case  there  were  neither  friths  nor  mountains  to 
separate  the  South  from  the  North,  or  to  make  our  Southern 
brethren  hate  the  people  of  the  North.  The  moral  cause  of 
trouble  in  the  system  of  slavery  being  now  removed,  peace 
and  harmony  are  possible,  and,  I  doubt  not,  these  blessings, 
though  long  delayed,  will  finally  come.  In  calling  attention 
to  the  event  which  makes  this  day  precious  we  honor  our- 


selves,  and  honor  the  noble  and  brave  men  who  brought  it 
about.  We  render  our  humble  tribute  of  gratitude  to-day, 
not  only  to  those  whose  valor  and  whose  blood  on  the  battle- 
field brought  freedom  to  the  American  slave ;  not  only  to  the 
great  generals  who  led  our  armies,  but  to  our  great  statesmen 
as  well  who  framed  our  laws  ;  and  not  to  these  only,  but  also 
to  the  noble  army  of  men  and  women  which  preceded  both 
statesmen  and  warriors  in  the  cause  of  emancipation,  and 
made  these  warriors  and  statesmen  possible.  Neither  would 
our  gratitude  forget  those  who  supplemented  the  great  act  of 
emancipation  by  carrying  the  blessings  of  education  to  the  be- 
nighted South,  thus  preparing  the  liberated  freedman  for  the 
duties  of  citizenship. 

I  need  not  stop  here  to  call  the  roll  of  any  of  these  classes. 
The  nation  knows  the  debt  it  owes  them,  and  will  never  for- 
get them.  We  have  but  to  mention  the  honored  name  of  Abra- 
ham Lincoln  in  the  Presidential  chair,  of  Ulysses  S.  Grant  in 
the  field,  at  whose  bedside  a  grateful  nation  now  stands  mute 
in  sympathy  and  sad  expectation  ;  of  William  Lloyd  Garrison 
in  the  columns  of  the  Liberator,  of  Wendell  Phillips  on  the 
rostrum,  of  Charles  Suinner  in  the  Senate,  to  cause  a  host  of 
noble  men  and  women  to  start  up  and  pass  in  review  before  us. 

But  I  drop  this  brief  reference  to  the  history  and  person- 
nel of  the  anti-slavery  movement,  and  will  speak  of  matters 
nearer  our  times  and  equally  pertinent  to  this  occasion.  Those 
who  abolished  slavery  did  their  work,  and  did  it  well.  They 
served  their  day  and  generation  with  wisdom,  courage,  and 
fortitude,  and  are  an  example  to  this  and  coming  generations. 
They  bravely  upheld  the  principles  of  liberty  and  justice,  and 
it  will  go  well  with  this  nation  and  with  us  if  we  in  our  time, 
and  if  those  who  are  to  come  after  us  in  theirs,  shall  adhere 
to  and  uphold  these  same  principles  with  equal  zeal,  courage, 
fidelity,  and  fortitude.  One  generation  cannot  safely  rest  on 
the  achievements  of  another,  and  ought  not  so  to  rest. 

Hitherto  there  has  been  little  Variety  in  the  thoughts,  reso- 
lutions, and  addresses  presented  for  consideration  on  occa- 
sions similar  to  this.  Each  celebration  has  been  almost  a 
fac-simile  of  its  predecessors.  The  speeches  have  been  little 
more  than  echoes  of  those  made  before,  because  the  condi- 
tions of  their  utterances  have  been  so  uniform,  and  all  one 
way.  To-day,  however,  conditions  are  changed,  or  appear 
to  be  changed.  We  do  not  stand  where  we  stood  one  year 
ago.  We  are  confronted  by  a  new  Administration.  The  term 


of  twenty-four  years  of  steady,  unbroken,  successful  Repub- 
lican rule  is  ended.  The  great  Eepublican  party  that  carried 
the  country  safely  through  the  late  war  against  the  rebellion, 
emancipated  the  slave,  saved  the  Union,  reconstructed  the 
government  of  the  Southern  States,  enfranchised  the  freed- 
men,  raised  the  national  credit,  improved  the  currency, 
decreased  the  national  debt,  and  did  more  for  the  honor, 
prosperity,  and  glory  of  the  American  people  than  was  ever 
done  before  in  the  same  length  of  time  by  any  party  in  any 
country  under  similar  circumstances,  has  been  defeated,  hu- 
miliated, and  driven  from  place  and  power. 

For  the  first  time  since  the  chains  fell  from  the  limbs  of 
the  slaves  of  the  District  of  Columbia  ;  for  the  first  time  since 
slaves  were  raised  from  chattels  to  men  ;  for  the  first  time 
since  they  were  clothed  with  the  dignity  of  American  citi- 
zenship they  find  themselves  under  the  rule  of  a  political 
party  which  steadily  opposed  their  every  step  from  bondage 
to  freedom,  and  this  fact  may  well  enough  give  a  peculiar 
coloring  to  the  thoughts  and  feelings  with  which  this  anni- 
versary of  emancipation  is  celebrated. 

The  great  question  of  the  hour  respects  the  true  significance 
of  this  change  in  the  national  front.  What  does  it  portend  ? 
How  will  it  affect  our  relations  to  the  people  and  government 
of  this  country  ?  How  was  this  stupendous  change  brought 
about,  and,  in  point  of  fact,  it  may  be  asked  with  some  pro- 
priety if  there  has  really  been  any  serious  change  made  in  our 
condition  by  this  change  in  the  relations  of  parties  ? 

To  the  eye  of  the  colored  man  the  change,  or  apparent 
change,  in  the  political  situation  is  very  marked,  and  wears  a 
very  sinister  aspect.  He  has  so  long  been  accustomed  to 
think  the  Republican  party  the  sheet-anchor  of  his  liberty, 
the  star  of  all  his  hopes,  that  he  can  see  nought  but  ill  in  the 
ascendancy  of  the  Democratic  party.  He  addresses  it  much 
as  did  Hamlet  his  father's  ghost : 

"  Tell  why  thy  canonized  bones,  hearsed  in  death, 
Have  burst  their  cerements  ;  why  the  sepulchre. 
Wherein  we  saw  thee  quietly  inuru'd, 

Hath  oped  his  ponderous  and  marble  jaws  to  cast  thee  up  again. 
What  may  this  mean,  that  thou,  dead  corpse, 
Again  in  complete  steel,  revisit'st  thus  the  glimpses  of  the  moon, 
Making  night  hideous,  and  we,  poor  fools  of  nature, 
So  horridly  to  shake  our  disposition 
With  thoughts  beyond  the  reaches  of  our  souls  ?" 

It  is,  perhaps,  too  early  to  determine  the  full  significance 


of  the  return  of  the  Democratic  party  to  power,  or  to  tell  just 
how  that  return  to  power  came  about.  One  thing  must  be 
admitted,  and  that  is  that  the  power  and  vitality  of  the  Demo- 
cratic party  have  been  vastly  underrated.  It  has  indulged 
in  vices  and  crimes  enough  to  have  killed  a  dozen  ordinary 
parties,  and  yet  it  lives.  At  times  it  has  really  seemed  to  be 
dead.  Some  said  it  had  died  by  opposing  the  war  for  the 
Union,  but  it  was  not  so.  We  thought  the  life  had  gone  out 
of  it  when  it  took  our  late  friend,  Horace  Greely,  for  its  candi- 
date for  the  Presidency  and  adopted  a  Republican  platform, 
but  it  was  not  so. 

It  was  the  same  old  party  in  a  new  dress,  and  time  has 
shown  that  it  was  as  full  of  life  and  power  as  ever.  The 
fact  is,  it  was  never  either  honestly  dead  or  securely  buried. 
Even  when  it  slept  it  had  one  eye  open,  and  saw  better  with 
that  one  eye  than  did  the  Republican  party  with  its  two.  Our 
mistakes  concerning  it  have  been  made  abundantly  clear  by 
the  late  election  and  the  dazzling  splendor  of  the  recent  in- 
auguration. We  thought  the  Democratic  party  dead  when  it 
was  alive,  and  the  Republican  party  alive  and  strong  when  it 
was  half  dead.  Long  continuance  in  power  had  developed 
rival  ambitions,  personal  animosities,  factional  combinations 
in  the  Republican  party  that  were  fatal  to  its  success  and 
even  endangered  its  life. 

One  great  lesson  taught  by  Republican  defeat  is  familiar 
to  all.  It  is  the  folly  of  relying  upon  past  good  behavior  for 
present  success.  Parties,  like  men,  must  act  in  the  living 
present  or  fail.  It  is  not  what  they  have  done  or  left  undone 
in  the  past  that  turns  the  scale,  but  what  they  are  doing,  and 
mean  to  do  now.  The  result  shows  that  neither  the  past 
good  conduct  of  the  Republican  party  nor  the  past  bad  con- 
duct of  the  Democratic  party  has  had  much  to  do  with  the 
late  election. 

Americans  have  too  little  memory  for  good  or  bad  politi- 
cal conduct.  The  people  have  said  in  the  late  election,  "  We 
care  nothing  for  your  past ;  but  what  is  your  present  char- 
acter and  work  ?"  And  in  rendering  judgment  they  have 
said,  "  We  see  little  ground  for  preferring  one  to  the  other." 

But,  fellow-citizens,  it  is  consoling  to  think  that  this  change 
in  the  political  front  justly  implies  no  real  change  for  the 
worse  in  the  moral  convictions  of  the  American  people.  On 
the  great  questions  that  divided  the  parties  during  the  periods 
of  war  and  reconstruction  there  has  been  no  change  what- 


ever.  Upon  all  the  great  measures  of  justice,  liberty,  and 
.civilization,  originated  and  carried  through  Congress  by  the 
Republican  party,  I  believe  the  heart  of  the  nation  to  be  still 
safe  and  sound.  If  the  measures  then  in  controversy  between 
the  parties  were  now  submitted  to  the  American  people,  I 
fully  believe  they  would  sustain  them  one  and  all  by  an  over- 
whelming vote. 

The  trouble  was  that  the  Republican  party  in  the  late  cam- 
paign forgot  for  the  moment  its  high  mission  as  the  party  of 
great  moral  ideas,  and  sought  victory  on  grounds  far  below 
its  ordinary  level.  It  made  national  pelf  more  important  and 
prominent  than  national  purity.  It  made  the  body  more 
important  than  the  soul ;  national  prosperity  more  important 
than  national  justice.  There  was  no  square  issue  made  up 
between  the  parties.  One  talked  in  favor  of  the  tariff  and 
the  other  did  not  talk  against  it.  Both  together  beat  the  air 
and  raised  a  dust,  confused  counsel,  blinded  the  voters,  and 
rendered  victory  a  thing  of  chance  rather  than  a  thing  of 
choice.  The  Republican  party  was  not  more  surprised  by 
defeat  than  the  Democratic  party  was  astonished  by  victory. 
Twelve  hundred  votes  would  have  changed  the  result ;  so 
that  nothing  for  the  future  can  be  safely  predicted  upon  the 
election  either  way.  It  does  not  imply  that  the  Democratic 
party  is  in  power  to  stay,  or  that  the  Republican  party  is  out 
of  power  to  stay,  or  that  new  parties  are  to  arise  and  take 
the  place  of  the  old. 

While  it  was  painfully  evident  that  the  Republican  party, 
during  the  late  canvass,  had  little  or  nothing  to  say  against 
the  outrages  committed  upon  the  newly  enfranchised  people 
of  the  South,  it  was  equally  plain  that  the  Democratic  party 
had  nothing  to  say  in  defense  of  these  outrages.  Yet  it  is  not 
strange,  in  view  of  the  history  of  the  two  parties,  that  much 
alarm  was  felt  by  colored  people  all  over  the  South  when  they 
first  learned  that  the  great  Republican  party  was  defeated  and 
that  the  Democratic  party  was  soon  to  administer  the  National 

Ignorant  as  the  colored  people  of  the  South  have  been,  and 
may  still  be,  about  other  matters  of  national  importance,  they 
have  always  been  intelligent  enough  as  to  the  character  and 
relations  of  political  parties.  They  have  never  been  mistaken 
as  to  the  historical  difference  between  the  party  which  gave 
them  liberty  and  the  party  which  sought  to  continue  their  en- 
slavement. "  They  had  known  the  Democratic  party  long  and 


well  and  only  as  the  party  of  the  old  master  class.  They 
naturally  held  the  triumph  of  that  party  as  a  victory  of  the 
old  master  class.  In  the  panic  of  the  moment  they  saw  in  it 
a  possible  attempt  to  rehabilitate  the  old  order  of  government 
in  the  South,  in  which  they  would  be  greatly  oppressed  if  not 

In  the  joy  and  exultation  of  the  old  master  class  over  the 
defeat  of  the  Republican  party,  and  over  the  return  of  the 
old  Democratic  party  to  power,  they  read  what  they  thought 
their  doom.  Jealous  of  their  newly  gained  liberty,  as  well 
they  might  be,  feeling  themselves  in  peril  and  left  naked  to 
their  enemies,  their  fears  amounted  to  agony.  But,  thanks 
to  the  kind  assurances  promptly  given  by  the  President-elect 
and  by  other  Democrats  in  high  places,  this  alarm  was  tran- 
sient, and  has  now  given  way  in  some  measure  to  a  feeling  of 
confidence  and  security. 

How  long  this  feeling  of  confidence  and  security  will  last, 
however,  will  depend  upon  the  future  policy  of  the  present 
administration.  The  inaugural  address  of  President  Cleve- 
land was  all  that  any  friend  of  liberty  and  justice  could  reason- 
ably ask  for  the  freedmen.  It  was  a  frank  and  manly  avowal, 
wrorthy  of  the  occasion.  It  accepted  their  citizenship  as  a 
fact  settled  beyond  debate,  and  as  a  subject  which  ought  to 
attract  attention  only  with  a  view  to  the  improvement  of  their 
character  and  their  better  qualification  by  education  for  the 
duties  and  responsibilities  of  citizens  of  the  Republic. 

No  better  words  have  dropped  from  the  east  portico  of  the 
Capitol  since  the  inauguration  days  of  Abraham  Lincoln  and 
Gen.  Grant.  I  believe  they  were  sincerely  spoken,  but  whether 
the  President  will  be  able  to  administer  the  government  in  the 
light  of  those  liberal  sentiments  is  an  open  question.  The 
one-man  power  in  our  government  is  very  great,  but  the  power 
of  party  may  be  greater.  The  President  is  not  the  autocrat, 
but  the  executive  of  the  nation.  But,  happily,  the  executive 
is  yet  a  power,  and  may  be  able  to  obtain  the  support  of  the 
co-ordinate  branches  of  the  government  in  so  plain  a  duty  as 
protecting  the  rights  of  the  colored  citizens,  with  those  of  all 
other  citizens  of  the  Republic.  For  one,  though  Republican 
I  am,  and  have  been,  and  ever  expect  to  be,  tnough  I  did 
what  I  could  to  elect  James  G.  Blaine  as  President  of  the 
United  States,  I  am  disposed  to  trust  President  Cleveland. 
By  his  words,  as  well  as  by  his  oath  of  office,  solemnly  sub- 
scribed to  before  uncounted  thousands  of  American  citizens, 


lie  is  held  and  firmly  bound  to  execute  the  Constitution  of  the 
United  States  in  the  fullness  of  its  spirit  and  in  the  complete- 
ness of  its  letter,  and  thus  far  he  has  shown  no  disposition  to 
shrink  from  that  duty. 

The  Southern  question  is  evidently  the  most  difficult  ques- 
tion with  which  President  Cleveland  will  have  to  deal.  Hard 
as  it  may  be  to  manage  his  party  on  the  civil  service  question, 
where  he  has  only  to  deal  with  hungry  and  thirsty  office- 
seekers,  nineteen  out  of  every  twenty  of  whom  he  must  neces- 
sarily offend  by  failing  to  find  desirable  places  for  them,  he 
will  find  it  incomparably  harder  to  meet  that  party's  wishes 
in  dealing  with  the  Southern  question.  There  are  several  meth- 
ods of  disposing  of  this  Southern  question  open  to  him,  and 
there  are  lions  in  the  way,  whichever  method  he  may  adopt. 

First.  He  may  adopt  a  policy  of  total  indifference.  He 
may  shut  his  eyes  to  the  fact  that  in  all  of  the  Gulf  States  polit- 
ical rights  of  colored  citizens  are  literally  stamped  out ;  that 
the  Constitution  which  he  has  solemnly  sworn  to  support  and 
enforce  is  under  the  feet  of  the  mob ;  that  in  those  States 
there  is  no  such  thing  as  a  fair  election  and  an  honest  count. 
He  may  utterly  refuse  to  interfere  by  word  or  deed  for  the 
enforcement  of  the  Constitution  and  for  the  protection  of  the 
ballot,  and  let  the  Southern  question  drift  whithersoever  it  will, 
to  a  port  of  safety  or  to  a  rock  of  disaster.  He  will  probably 
be  counselled  to  pursue  the  course  of  President  Hayes,  but  I 
hope  he  will  refuse  to  follow  it.  The  reasons  which  supported 
that  policy  do  not  exist  in  the  case  of  a  Democratic  Presi- 
dent. Mr.  Hayes  made  a  virtue  of  necessity.  He  had  fair 
warning  that  not  a  dollar  or  a  dime  would  be  voted  by  a 
Democratic  Congress  if  the  army  were  kept  in  the  South. 
The  cry  of  the  country  was  against  what  was  called  bayonet 

Secondly.  The  President  may  pursue  a  temporizing  policy  ; 
keep  the  word  of  promise  to  the  ear  and  break  it  to  the  heart, 
a  half-hearted,  a  neither  hot  nor  cold,  a  good  Lord  and  good 
devil  policy.  .  He  may  try  to  avoid  giving  offence  to  any,  and 
thus  succeed  in  pleasing  none  ;  a  policy  which  no  man  or 
party  can  pursue  without  inviting  and  earning  the  scorn  and 
contempt  of  all  honest  men  and  of  all  honest  parties. 

Thirdly.  He  may  decide  to  accept  the  Mississippi  plan  of 
conducting  elections  at  the  South  ;  encourage  violence  and 
crime ;  elevate  to  office  the  men  whose  hands  are  reddest  with 
innocent  blood ;  force  the  negroes  out  of  Southern  politics  by 


the  shot-gun  and  the  bulldozer's  whip  ;  cheat  them  out  of  the 
elective  franchise  ;  suppress  the  Republican  vote  ;  kill  off  their 
white  Republican  leaders,  and  keep  the  South  solid ;  and 
keep  its  one  hundred  and  fifty-three  electoral  votes — obtained 
thus  by  force,  fraud,  and  red-handed  violence — ready  to  be 
cast  for  a  Democratic  candidate  in  1888.  This  might  be 
acceptable  to  a  certain  class  of  Democrats  at  the  South,  but 
the  Democrats  of  the  North  would  abhor  and  denounce  it  as 
a  bloody  and  hell-black  policy.  It  would  hurl  the  party  from 
power  in  spite  of  the  solid  South,  and  keep  it  out  of  power 
another  four  and  twenty  years. 

Fourthly.  He  may  sustain  a  policy  of  absolute  fidelity  to 
all  the  requirements  of  the  Constitution  as  it  is,  and,  as  John 
Adams  said  of  the  Declaration  of  Independence,  he  may 
bravely  say  to  the  South  and  to  the  nation  :  "  Sink  or  swim, 
survive  or  perish,  I  am  for  the  Constitution  in  all  its  parts ! 
I  will  be  true  to  my  oath,  and  I  will,  to  the  best  of  my  ability, 
and  to  the  fullest  extent  of  my  power,  defend,  protect,  and 
maintain  the  rights  of  all  citizens,  without  regard  to  race  or 

There  can  be  no  doubt  as  to  which  of  these  methods  of 
treating  the  Southern  question  is  the  most  honest  and  safe 
one.  There  may  be  many  wrong  ways  for  individuals  or  na- 
tions to  pursue,  but  there  is  but  one  right  way,  and  it  remains 
to  be  seen  if  this  is  the  one  the  present  administration  will 
adopt  and  pursue.  Left  to  the  promptings  of  his  own  heart 
and  his  own  view  of  his  constitutional  duties,  and  to  his  own  Jj^t 
sense  of  the  requirements  of  consistency,  and  even  expedi- 
ency, I  firmly  believe  that  President  Cleveland  would  do  his 
utmost  to  protect  and  defend  the  constitutional  rights  of  all  " 
classes  of  citizens.  But  he  is  not  left  to  himself,  and  may 
adopt  a  different  policy. 

One  thing  seems  plain,  which  it  is  well  for  all  parties  to 
know  and  consider.  It  is  this  :  There  are  7,000,000  of  col- 
ored citizens  now  in  this  Republic.  They  stand  between 
the  two  great  parties — the  Republican  party  and  the  Demo- 
cratic party — and  whichever  of  these  two  parties  shall  be  most 
just  and  true  to  these  7,000,000  may  safely  count  upon  a  long 
lease  of  power  in  this  Republic.  It  is  not  their  votes  alone 
that  will  tell.  There  is  deep  down  among  the  people  of  this 
country  a  love  of  justice  and  fair  play,  and  that  fact  will  tell. 
It  is  now  as  it  was  in  the  time  of  war,  and  it  will  be  so  in  all 
time.  The  party  which  takes  the  negro  on  its  side  will  tri- 

umph.  The  world  moves,  and  the  conditions  of  success  and 
failure  have  changed. 

Formerly,  devotion  to  slavery  was  the  condition  upon  which 
the  success  of  the  Democratic  party  was  based.  But  time 
and  events  have  swept  away  this  abhorred  condition.  Lib- 
erty, not  slavery,  is  now  the  autocrat  of  the  Republic.  Nei- 
ther politics  nor  religion  can  succeed  in  the  future  by  pander- 
ing to  the  prejudices  arising  out  of  slavery.  Let  the  great 
Democratic  party  realize  this  fact,  and  shape  its  policy  in  ac- 
cordance with  it ;  let  it  do  justice  to  the  negro,  and  it  will 
certainly  succeed  itself  in  power  four  years  hence,  and  long 
years  after. 

On  the  contrary,  if  it  forgets  the  nation's  progress,  falls 
back  into  its  old  ruts,  and  seeks  success  on  the  old  conditions  ; 
if  it  forgets  that  slavery  has  now  become  an  anachronism,  a 
superstition  of  the  past,  having  no  proper  relation  to  the  age 
and  body  of  our  times,  it  will  be  ignominiously  driven  from 
place  and  power  four  years  hence,  and  no  arm  can,  or  ought 
to,  save  it. 

"  There  is  a  tide  in  the  affairs  of  men,  which, 
Taken  at  the  flood,  leads  on  to  fortune." 

This  tide  is  now  rising  at  the  feet  of  President  Cleveland 
and  his  administration,  and,  as  I  have  said,  it  remains  to  be 
seen  if  it  will  be  wisely  taken  at  the  flood.  Depend  upon  it, 
if  the  Democratic  party  does  not  avail  itself  of  the  colored 
man's  support  the  Republican  party  certainly  will.  That 
party  is  still  the  colored  man's  party,  and  it  will  be  all  the 
more  likely  to  consider  the  claims  of  the  colored  man,  in  view 
of  its  late  defeat,  and  the  causes  by  which  that  defeat  was 
brought  about.  Twelve  hundred  more  colored  votes  in  the 
State  of  New  York  would  have  saved  that  party  from  defeat. 

Unless  the  ballot  is  protected  better  than  heretofore  the 
Augusta  speech  of  the  Hon.  James  G.  Elaine,  delivered  after 
the  election,  will  be  the  keynote  of  the  Republican  campaign 
four  years  hence.  There  is  only  one  way  to  prevent  the  suc- 
cess of  the  Republican  party  if  that  issue  is  permitted  to  be 
raised.  The  Northern  people  were  sound  for  free  soil ; 
sound  for  free  speech  ;  sound  for  the  Union  ;  sound  for  re- 
construction in  other  days,  and  they  will  be  sound  for  justice 
and  liberty  and  a  free  ballot  to  the  newly  enfranchised  citi- 
zens when  that  issue  shall  be  fairly  presented  as  a  living  issue 
between  the  two  contending  parties. 


The  great  mistake  made  by  the  leaders  of  the  Kepublican 
party  during  the  late  canvass  was  the  failure  to  recognize  the 
facts  now  stated,  and  their  refusal  to  act  upon  them.  They 
had  become  tired  of  the  old  issues  and  wanted  new  ones. 
They  made  their  appeal  to  the  pocket  of  the  nation,  and  not 
to  the  heart  of  the  nation.  They  attended  to  the  mint,  anise, 
and  cummin  of  politics,  but  omitted  the  weightier  matters  of 
the  law — judgment,  mercy,  and  faith.  They  were  loud  for 
the  protection  of  things,  but  silent  for  the  protection  of  men. 
These  things  they  ought  to  have  done,  and  not  left  the  other 

The  idea  that  righteousness  exalteth  a  nation,  and  that  sin 
is  a  reproach  to  any  people,  was,  for  a  time,  lost  sight  of. 
The  all  engrossing  thought  of  the  campaign  was  a  judicious, 
discriminating  protective  tariff.  The  great  thing  was  protec- 
tion to  the  wool  of  Ohio  ;  to  the  iron  of  Pennsylvania,  and 
to  American  manufactures  generally.  Little  was  said,  thought, 
or  felt  about  national  integrity,  the  importance  of  maintain- 
ing good  faith  with  the  freedmen  or  the  Indian,  or  the  pro- 
tection of  the  constitutional  rights  of  American  citizens,  ex- 
cept where  such  rights  were  in  no  danger. 

The  great  thing  to  be  protected  was  American  industry 
against  competition  with  the  pauper  labor  of  Europe — not 
protection  of  the  starving  labor  of  the  South.  The  body  of 
the  nation  was  everything  ;  the  soul  of  the  nation  was  noth- 
ing. It  did  not  appear  from  the  campaign  speeches  that  it 
was  important  to  protect  and  preserve  both,  or  that  the  body 
was  not  more  dependent  upon  bread  for  life  than  was  the 
soul  dependent  upon  truth,  justice,  benevolence,  and  good 
faith  for  health  and  life.  In  the  absence  of  these,  the  soul 
of  the  nation  starves,  sickens,  and  dies.  It  may  not  fall  at 
once  upon  the  withdrawal  of  these,  but  persistent  injustice 
will,  in  the  end,  do  its  certain  work  of  moral  destruction.  No 
nation,  no  party,  no  man  can  live  long  and  flourish  on  false- 
hood, deceit,  injustice,  and  broken  pledges.  Loyalty  will  perish 
where  protection  and  good  faith  are  denied  and  withheld, 
and  nothing  other  that  this  should  be  expected,  either  by  a 
party,  a  man,  or  by  a  government.  On  the  other  hand,  where 
good  faith  is  maintained,  where  justice  is  upheld,  where  truth 
and  right  prevail,  the  government  will  be  like  the  wise  man's 
house  in  Scripture — the  winds  may  blow,  the  rains  may  de- 
scend, the  flood  may  come  and  beat  upon  it,  but  it  will  stand, 
because  it  is  founded  upon  the  solid  rock  of  principle.  I 


speak  this,  not  only  for  the  Kepublican  party,  but  for  all 
parties.  Though  I  am  a  party  man,  to  me  parties  are  valu- 
able only  as  they  subserve  the  ends  of  good  government. 
When  they  persistently  violate  the  fundamental  rights  of  the 
humblest  and  weakest  in  the  land  I  scout  them,  despise  them, 
and  leave  them. 

We  boast  of  our  riches,  jDOwer,  and  glory  as  a  nation,  and 
we  have  reason  to  do  so.  \~  But  what  is  prosperity,  what  is 
power,  what  is  national  glory,  when  national  honor,  national 
good  faith,  and  national  protection  to  the  rights  of  our  citi- 
zens are  denied  ?  Of  what  avail  is  citizenship  and  the  elec- 
tive franchise  where  a  whole  people  are  deliberately  aban- 
doned to  anarchy  by  the  Government  under  which  they  live, 
and  told  they  must  protect  themselves  from  violence  as  best 
they  may,  for,  practically,  this  is  just  what  the  American 
Government  has  said  to  the  colored  and  white  Republican 
voters  of  the  South  during  the  last  eight  years.  Minister 
Lowell  was  accused  of  not  protecting  the  rights  of  Irish - 
Americans  in  England,  and  our  ships  are  just  now  ordered  to 
Panama  to  look  after  the  interests  of  American  citizens  in 
Central  America.  This  is  all  right,  but  when  and  where  have 
our  army  and  navy  gone  to  protect  the  rights  of  American 
citizens  at  home  ?  To  say,  "  I  am  a  Roman  citizen  !"  could 
once  arrest  the  bloody  scourge  and  cause  the  brutal  tyrant  to 
turn  pale.  But  who  cares  now  for  the  citizenship  of  any 
American  Republican,  black  or  white,  in  Mississippi  or  South 
Carolina  ?  We  are  rich  and  powerful.  But  we  should  re- 
'member  that  the  whole  vast  volume  of  human  history  is 
dotted  all  along  with  the  wrecks  of  nations  which  have 
perished  amid  wealth,  luxury,  and  splendor.  What  doth  it 
profit  a  nation  to  gain  the  whole  world  if  it  shall  lose  its  own 
soul  ?  Henry  Clay,  in  1839,  made  an  elaborate  defence  of 
the  right  to  hold  property  in  man.  Two  hundred  years  of 
legislation  has  sanctioned  and  identified  negro  slaves  as  prop- 
erty. When  warned  by  anti-slavery  men  of  the  dreadful  con- 
sequences of  perpetuating  slavery,  he  said  that  that  warning 
had  been  given  fifty  years  before,  and  that  it  had  been 
answered  by  fifty  years  of  unexampled  prosperity.  His  idea 
was  that  if  slavery  were  a  curse  God  would  not  allow  a  nation 
that  upheld  it  to  prosper.  The  argument  was  sophistical, 
but  it  contained  a  great  truth  after  all,  and  time  only  was  re- 
quired to  verify  it.  He  forgot  that  God  reigns  in  eternity  ; 
that  space  is  sometimes  given  for  repentance.  He  did  not 


remember,  as  Jefferson  did,  that  God  is  just,  and  that  His  jus- 
tice cannot  sleep  forever. 

Had  Mr.  Clay  lived  to  see,  as  we  have  seen,  the  union  of 
his  beloved  country  rent  asunder  at  the  centre,  and  hostile 
armies  composed  of  his  beloved  countrymen  on  the  field  of 
battle,  amid  dust,  smoke,  and  fire,  blowing  each  other  to 
pieces  from  the  cannon's  mouth  ;  had  he  seen  five  hundred 
thousand  of  the  youth  and  flower  of  both  sections  of  this 
land  cut  down  by  the  sword  and  flung  down  into  bloody 
graves  ;  had  he  seen  in  the  wake  of  this  fratricidal  war  the 
smoldering  ruins  of  noble  towns  and  cities,  and  the  nation 
staggering  under  a  debt  heavier  than  a  mountain  of  gold  ; 
had  he  seen  the  sullen  discontent  and  deadly  hate  which  sur- 
vived the  war,  and  traced  all  these  calamities  and  more,  as 
he  must  do,  to  the  existence  of  slavery,  he  would,  in  all  the 
bitterness  of  his  soul,  have  cursed  the  day  when  he  poured 
out  his  eloquence  in  defence  of  that  system  which  brought 
upon  his  country  these  accumulated  horrors. 

The  lesson  of  this  national  experience  is  in  place  to-day, 
and  it  would  be  well  for  this  nation  to  study  and  learn  it. 
Look  abroad  !  What  rocks  Europe  to-day  ?  What  causes 
the  Emperor  of  all  the  Eussias  to  be  uneasy  on  his  pillow  ? 
What  makes  Austria  tremble  ?  Why  does  England  start  up 
frantically  at  midnight  and  search  her  premises  ?  You  know, 
and  I  know,  that  these  countries  have  aggrieved  classes  among 
them  who  have  just  ground  of  complaint  against  their  gov- 

Now,  fellow- citizens,  let  me  speak  plainly.  This  is  an  ag£. 
when  men  go  to  and  fro  in  the  earth,  and  knowledge  increasese 
oppressed  peoples  all  over  the  world  are  protesting  with  earth- 
quake emphasis  against  all  forms  of  injustice,  some  by  one 
means  and  some  by  another.  Examples,  like  certain  diseases, 
are  contagious.  Kailroads,  steam  navigation,  electric  wires, 
newspapers,  and  traveling  emissaries  are  abroad.  Can  you 
be  quite  sure  that  the  oppressed  laborers  in  this  country,  white 
and  colored,  will  not  some  day  make  common  cause  and  learn 
some  of  the  dangerous  modes  of  protest  against  injustice 
adopted  in  other  countries  ?  I  deal  in  no  threats,  for  myself 
or  for  any  of  my  countrymen,  and  am  only  for  peaceful 
methods  ;  but  I  say  to  all  oppressors,  "  Have  a  care  how  you 
goad  and  imbrute  the  colored  man  of  the  South  !"  He  is 
weak,  but  not  powerless.  He  is  submissive  to  wrongs,  but 
not  insensible  to  his  rights.  He  is  hopeful,  but  not  incapa- 


ble  of  despair.  He  can  endure,  but  even  to  him  may  come 
a  time  when  he  shall  think  endurance  has  ceased  to  be  a 
virtue.  All  the  world  is  a  school,  and  in  it  one  lesson  is  just 
now  being  taught  in  letters  of  fire  and  blood,  and  that  is,  the 
utter  insecurity  of  life  and  property  in  the  presence  of  an  ag- 
grieved class.  This  lesson  can  be  learned  by  the  ignorant  as 
well  as  by  the  wise.  Who  can  blame  the  negro  if,  when  he 
is  driven  from  the  ballot-box,  the  jury-box,  and  the  school- 
house,  denied  equal  rights  on  railroads  and  steamboats,  called 
out  of  his  bed  at  midnight  and  whipped  by  regulators,  com- 
pelled to  live  in  rags  and  wretchedness,  and  his  wages  kept 
back  by  fraud,  denied  a  fair  trial  when  accused  of  crime,  he 
shall  imitate  the  example  of  other  oppressed  classes  and  in- 
/  vokes  some  terrible  explosive  power  as  a  means  of  bringing 
his  oppressors  to  their  senses,  and  making  them  respect  the 
claims  of  justice  ?  This  would  indeed  be  madness,  but  op- 
pression will  make  even  a  wise  man  mad. 

It  should  not  be  forgotten  that  the  negro  is  not  what  he 
was  twenty  years  ago.  Kossuth  once  said  that  bayonets 
think.  The  negro  is  beginning  to  think.  Years  ago  a  book 
had  as  little  to  say  to  him  and  had  as  little  meaning  for  him 
as  a  brick.  It  was  then  a  thing  of  darkness  and  silence. 
Now  it  is  a  thing  of  light  and  speech.  Education,  the  sheet 
anchor  of  safety  to  society  where  liberty  and  justice  are  se- 
cure, is  a  dangerous  thing  to  society  in  the  presence  of  in- 
justice and  oppression. 

I  pursue  this  thought  no  further.  A  hint  to  the  wise  ought 

to  be  sufficient.    Let  not  my  words  be  construed  as  a  menace, 

but  taken  as  I  mean  them — as  a  warning  ;  not  interpreted  as 

inviting  disaster,  but  considered  as  designed  to  avert  dis- 


Fellow-citizens,  many  things  calculated  to  make  us  thought- 
ful have  occurred  since  I  addressed  you  on  an  occasion  like 
this,  two  years  ago  ;  but  nothing  has  occurred  which  ought 
to  make  us  more  thoughtful  than  the  recent  decision  of  the 
Supreme  Court  of  the  United  States  on  the  civil  rights  bill. 
That  decision  came  upon  the  country  like  a  clap  of  thunder 
from  a  clear  sky.  It  came  without  warning.  It  was  a  sur- 
prise to  enemies  and  a  bitter  disappointment  to  friends.  Had 
the  bench  been  composed  of  Democratic  judges  some  such  a 
decision  might  have  come  upon  us  without  producing  any 
very  startling  effect.  But  the  fact  was  otherwise.  This  blow 
was  dealt  us  in  the  house  of  our  friends.  The  bench  was 


composed  of  nine  learned  Kepublican  judges,  and  of  these 
nine  honorable  men  only  one  came  to  our  help,  I  mean 
Honorable  Justice  John  M.  Harlan.  He  stood  up  for  the 
rights  of  colored  citizens  as  those  rights  are  defined  by  the 
fourteenth  amendment  of  the  Constitution  of  the  United 

It  was  a  magnificent  spectacle,  this  grand  representation 
of  American  justice  standing  alone,  and  the  country  will  not 
soon  forget  it.  Without  meaning  any  disrespect  to  the 
Supreme  Court,  or  reflecting  upon  the  purity  of  its  motives, 
I  must  say  here,  as  I  have  said  elsewhere,  and  shall  say  many 
times  over  if  my  life  is  spared,  that  that  decision  is  the  most 
striking  illustration  I  have  ever  seen  of  how  it  is  possible  to 
keep  alive  the  letter  of  the  law  and  at  the  same  time  stab  its 
spirit  to  death.  Portia  strictly  construed  the  law  of  Yenice 
for  mercy,  and  this  rule  of  construction  has  the  approval  of 
all  the  ages,  but  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  United  States 
construed  American  law  against  the  weak  and  in  the  interest 
of  prejudice  and  brutality.  Never  before  was  made  so  clear 
the  meaning  of  Paul's  saying,  "  The  letter  killeth,  but  the 
spirit  giveth  life." 

I  am  glad,  and  I  know  that  you  are  glad,  that  there  was 
one  man  on  that  bench  who  had  the  mind  and  heart  to  be 
as  true  to  liberty  in  this  its  day  as  was  the  old  Supreme 
Court  of  slavery  in  its  day.  While  slavery  existed  all  pre- 
sumptions were  made  in  its  favor.  The  obvious  intention  of 
the  law  prevailed,  but  now  the  plain  intention  of  the  law  has 
been  strangled  by  the  letter  of  the  law. 

The  fourteenth  amendment  of  the  Constitution  was  plainly 
intended  to  secure  equal  rights  to  all  citizens  of  the  United 
States,  without  regard  to  race  or  color,  and  Congress  was  au- 
thorized to  carry  out  this  provision  by  appropriate  legislation. 
But  by  this  decision  of  the  Supreme  Court  the  fourteenth 
amendment  has  been  slain  in  the  house  of  its  friends.  I 
have  no  doubt  that  that  decision  contributed  to  the  defeat 
of  the  Eepublican  party  in  the  late  election.  I  repeat,  that 
decision  may  well  make  colored  men  thoughtful. 

Kentucky  has  done  many  evil  things  in  her  time,  but  she 
has  also  done  many  great  and  good  things.  She  has  re- 
cently given  us  a  law  by  which  equal  educational  advantages 
have  been  extended  to  colored  children.  Long  ago  she  gave 
us  James  G.  Birney,  the  first  abolition  candidate  for  the  presi- 
dency of  the  United  States ;  a  former  slave-holder,  but  one 


who  emancipated  his  slaves  on  his  own  motion  ;  a  genuine 
gentleman  of  the  old  school,  and  one  to  be  gratefully  remem- 
bered by  every  friend  of  liberty  in  this  country.  She  has  given 
us  CassiuS  M.  Clay,  the  man  who  fought  his  way  to  freedom 
of  speech  on  his  native  soil.  She  has  given  us  John  G.  Fee, 
the  earnest  and  devoted  educator  of  the  freedman.  Nor  is  this 
all.  She  has  given  us  two  of  the  largest  hearts  and  broadest 
minds  of  which  our  country  can  boast ;  men  who  had  the 
courage  of  their  convictions,  and  who  dared,  at  the  peril  of 
what  men  hold  most  dear,  to  be  true  to  their  convictions. 
These  strong  men — one  dead  and  the  oilier  living — are  Abra- 
ham Lincoln  and  John  M.  Harlan.  Abraham  Lincoln  is  al- 
ready enshrined  in  the  hearts  of  the  American  people,  and 
Justice  John  M.  Harlan  will  hold  a  place  beside  him  in  the 
hearts  of  his  countrymen. 

You  remember  the  public  meeting  held  in  Lincoln  Hall, 
and  the  free  expression  of  opinion  upon  the  unsoundness  of 
the  decision  of  the  Supreme  Court  on  the  civil  rights  bill. 
You  will  also  remember  that  the  ablest  and  boldest  words 
there  spoken  were  from  the  lips  of  Eobert  G.  Ingersoll,  a  man 
everywhere  spoken  against  as  an  infidel  and  a  blasphemer. 
Well,  my  friends,  better  be  an  infidel  and  a  so-called  blas- 
phemer than  a  hypocrite  who  steals  the  livery  of  the  court  of 
heaven  to  serve  the  devil  in. 

Infidel  though  Mr.  Ingersoll  may  be  called,  he  never  turned 
his  back  upon  his  colored  brothers,  as  did  the  evangelical 
Christians  of  this  city  on  the  occasion  of  the  late  visit  of  Mr. 
Moody.  Of  all  the  forms  of  negro  hate  in  this  world,  save 
•  me  from  that  one  which  clothes  itself  with  the  name  of  the 
loving  Jesus,  who,  when  on  earth,  especially  identified  him- 
self with  the  lowest  classes  of  suffering  men,  and  the  proof 
given  of  his  Messiahship  was  that  the  poor  had  the  Gospel 
preached  unto  them.  The  negro  can  go  into  the  circus,  the 
theatre,  the  cars,  and  can  be  admitted  into  the  lectures  of 
Mr.  Ingersoll,  but  cannot  go  into  an  Evangelical  Christian 

I  do  not  forget  that  on  the  occasion  of  the  civil  rights  meet- 
ing I  have  mentioned,  one  evangelical  clergyman,  a  real  man 
of  God,  gave  to  the  gospel  trumpet  a  certain  sound.  The 
religion  of  Dr.  John  E.  Kankin,  like  the  love  of  his  Eedeemer, 
is  not  bounded  by  race  or  color,  but  takes  in  the  whole  hu- 
man family.  No  truer  man  than  he  ever  ascended  a  Wash- 
ington pulpit. 


In  conclusion  let  me  say  one  word  more  of  the  soul  of  the 
nation  and  of  the  importance  of  keeping  it  sensitive  and  re- 
sponsive to  the  claims  of  truth,  justice,  liberty,  and  progress. 
In  speaking  of  the  soul  of  the  nation  I  deal  in  no  cant 
phraseology.  I  speak  of  that  mysterious,  invisible,  im- 
palpable something  which  underlies  the  life  alike  of  indi- 
viduals and  of  nations,  and  determines  their  character  and 

It  is  the  soul  that  makes  a  nation  great  or  small,  noble  or 
ignoble,  weak  or  strong.  It  is  the  soul  that  exalts  it  to  hap- 
piness, or  sinks  it  to  misery.  While  it  modifies  and  shapes 
all  physical  conditions,  it  is  itself  superior  to  all  such  condi- 
tions. It  is  the  spiritual  side  of  humanity.  Fire  cannot  burn 
it,  water  cannot  quench  it.  Though  occult  and  impalpable, 
it  is  just  as  real  as  granite  or  iron.  The  laws  of  its  life  are 
spiritual,  not  carnal,  and  it  must  conform  to  these  laws  or  it 
starves  and  dies.  The  outward  semblance  of  it  may  survive 
for  a  time,  just  as  ancient  temples  and  old  cathedrals  may 
stand  long  after  the  spirit  that  inspired  them  has  vanished. 
But  they,  too,  will  moulder  to  ruin  and  vanish.  The  life  of 
the  nation  is  secure  only  while  the  nation  is  honest,  truthful, 
and  virtuous  ;  for  upon  these  conditions  depend  the  life  of 
its  life. 

A  few  years  ago  a  terrible  and  desolating  fire  swept  over 
the  proud  young  city  of  Chicago,  and  left  her  architectural 
splendors  in  ashes.  In  a^few  hours  her  "  cloud-capped  towers 
and  gorgeous  palaces  "  and  solemn  temples  crumbled  to  dust, 
and  were  scattered  to  the  four  winds  of  heaven,  so  that  no 
man  could  find  them,  but  there  remained  the  invisible  soul 
of  a  great  people,  full  of  energy,  enterprise,  and  faith,  and 
hence,  out  of  the  ashes  and  hollow  desolation,  a  grander  Chi- 
cago than  the  one  destroyed  arose  "  as  if  by  magic." 

"  What  constitutes  a  state  ? 
Not  high  raised  battlements,  or  labored  mound, 

Thick  walls  or  moated  gate  ; 
Not  cities  proud,  with  spires  and  turrets  crowned  ; 

Not  bays  and  broad  armed  ports, 
Where,  laughing  at  the  storm,  rich  navies  ride. 

No,  men  ;  high-minded  men  ! 
With  power  as  far  above  dull  brutes  endued, 

In  forest,  brake,  or  den, 
As  beasts  excel  cold  rocks  and  brambles  rude  ; 

Men  who  their  duties  know,        *. 
But  know  their  rights,  and  knowing,  dare  maintain." 

IN  WASHINGTON,  D.  C.,  1886. 

In  introducing  Mr.  FREDERICK  DOUGLASS,  on  the  occasion 
of  the  Twenty-fourth  Anniversary  of  Emancipation  in  the 
District  of  Columbia,  Prof.  J.  M.  GREGORY  made  the  follow- 
ing remarks  : 

LADIES  AND  GENTLEMEN  :  For  many  years  prior  to  1861  the 
friends  of  freedom,  seeing  the  prominence  slavery  had  ac- 
quired because  of  its  existence  at  the  capital  of  the  nation, 
and  the  evil  influence  which  it  necessarily  exerted  upon  legis- 
lation, sought  in  vain  by  petitions  and  other  measures  for  its 
abolition  in  the  District  of  Columbia.  It  was  not,  however, 
till  the  national  conscience  began  to  be  quickened  by  the 
reverses  of  our  armies,  and  legislators  to  realize  the  dangers 
which  threatened  the  life  of  the  nation,  that  the  cause  could 
muster  sufficient  strength  to  gain  a  hearing  in  Congress. 

On  the  16th  of  December,  1861,  Mr.  Wilson,  of  Massachu- 
setts, introduced  into  the  Senate  a  bill  providing  for  the  im- 
mediate emancipation  of  slaves  in  the  District  upon  the  pay- 
ment to  the  owners  of  $300  for  each  slave.  As  was  to  be  ex- 
pected the  bill  was  antagonized  by  pro-slavery  men  in  the  Sen- 
ate and  House.  They  feared  that  the  measure  proposed  was 
the  entering  wedge  for  the  final  overthrow  of  their  pet  insti- 
tution in  the  South.  As  subsequent  events  proved  their  fears 
were  not  without  foundation.  Notwithstanding  the  bitter 
opposition  which  the  bill  encountered,  it  passed  both  houses 
of  Congress  in  less  than  four  months  from  its  first  introduc- 
tion in  the  Senate,  and  was  approved  by  the  President  on 
the  16th  of  April,  just  twenty-four  years  ago  to-day. 

The  debates  on  this  and  kindred  questions  makes  memor- 
able the  second  session  of  the  Thirty-seventh  Congress,  and 
they  are  of  special  interest  because  they  indicated  a  new  de- 
parture in  the  line  of  argument  pursued  by  Northern  states- 
men. They  based  their  arguments  for  emancipation,  not 
upon  grounds  of  expediency,  but  the  great  principles  of  right 
and  justice. 

The  importance  of  this  act  must  not  be  overlooked.  It 
struck  the  shackles  from  the  limbs  of  3,000  human  beings  and 
placed  them  in  the  ranks  of  freemen.  It  took  away  the 


shame  which  slavery  had  brought  upon  the  National  Capital. 
But  this  was  not  all.  It  elevated  the  nation  in  its  own  eyes 
and  in  the  eyes  of  the  civilized  world,  and  roused  a  feeling  of 
patriotism  and  pride.  It  called  forth  an  expression  from  the 
National  Legislature,  and  a  majority  of  the  members  by 
solemn  vote  arrayed  themselves  on  the  side  of  emancipation 
and  liberty,  in  opposition  to  slavery  and  oppression.  It  was 
the  forerunner  of  the  great  emancipation  proclamation— that 
proclamation  which  more  than  all  his  other  acts  makes  the 
name  of  Abraham  Lincoln  secure  to  all  posterity. 

In  our  rejoicing  on  this  occasion  we  should  not  forget  to 
hold  in  grateful  remembrance  the  men  whose  votes  secured 
the  passage  of  the  bill,  and  especially  its  author,  a  man  who 
by  his  works  proved  himself  a  friend  of  the  oppressed,  Hon. 
Henry  Wilson,  the  benefactor  of  the  District. 

When  the  emancipation  bill  became  a  law  in  1862,  there 
were  15,000  colored  people  in  the  District  of  Columbia, 
12,000  of  whom  were  free  and  the  remainder  slaves.  They 
maintained  eight  schools  for  the  education  of  their  children, 
and  were  the  owners  of  twelve  churches,  which  cost  about 
$75,000.  With  the  increase  of  population  came  the  demand 
for  more  churches,  so  that  to-day  they  have  eighty  churches 
and  missions  in  the  District.  Many  of  the  churches  are  very 
valuable  and  located  on  some  of  the  principal  streets  and 
avenues,  the  new  Metropolitan  Church  alone  being  valued  at 

Under  the  old  system  the  word  "  colored  "  appeared  oppo- 
site the  name  of  each  colored  person  paying  taxes  on  the 
books  of  the  Collector  of  Taxes.  Now,  no  such  distinction 
is  made,  and  thefe  are  no  data  from  which  the  number  pay- 
ing taxes  among  colored  citizens  can  be  definitely  known. 
From  information  received  at  the  tax  office,  I  judge  that  there 
are  about  180  persons  with  property  assessed  individually  at 
$1,000,  the  assessed  valuation  of  real  estate  in  this  District 
being  two-thirds  to  actual  cash  valuation.  It  will  be  quite 
in  keeping  with  "the  facts  to  say  that  two  of  our  citizens  have 
acquired  property  valued  at  $100,000  each,  two  at  $75,000, 
six  at  $25,000,  fifteen  at  $20,000,  twenty  at  $10,000,  and  fifty 
at  $5,000,  making  in  the  aggregate  at  least  a  million  of 
dollars.  I  am  positively  assured  that  the  increase  in  the  val- 
uation of  property  owned  by  colored  men  since  emancipation 
is  100  per  cent.  This,  we  think,  is  a  most  creditable  show- 
ing for  our  property  interests. 


Of  the  15,000  colored  people  in  the  District  at  the  time  of 
emancipation  there  were  proportionately  more  skilled  car- 
penters and  masons  than  now  in  a  population  of  70,000.  But 
labor  has  become  more  diversified.  We  are  now  engaged  in 
pursuits  in  which  we  had  no  experience  before  the  war.  In 
1861  a  colored  lawyer  was  a  personage  unknown  to  the  na- 
tional capital.  Now  half  a  dozen  colored  lawyers  successfully 
practice  their  profession  in  the  courts  of  the  District.  Then 
we  had  no  physicians,  regular  graduates  of  medical  schools ; 
now  a  dozen  or  more  follow  the  practice  of  medicine  in  the 
cities  of  Washington  and  Georgetown,  and  are  recognized  as 
men  of  skill  and  ability  by  the  profession.  One  of  these 
physicians,  with  his  assistant,  is  in  charge  of  the  Freedman's 
Hospital,  one  of  the  largest  and  most  successful  hospitals  in 
the  country.  Government  employment  tends  to  keep  out 
many  from  some  business  occupations  in  which  the  people 
in  other  large  cities  engage,  but  this  disadvantage,  if  disad- 
vantage it  be  considered,  operates  no  more  against  us  than 
against  other  citizens. 

The  greatest  progress  made,  however,  and  that  which  is 
necessarily  the  first  in  order  of  time  and  importance,  has  been 
in  matters  of  education.  The  schools  have  increased  from 
8  to  174,  with  an  average  attendance  of  9,000  children,  giv- 
ing employment  to  more  than  100  teachers.  Twelve  of  the 
school-houses  in  which  these  schools  are  conducted  are 
among  the  largest  and  most  convenient  school  buildings  in  the 
District.  Too  much  cannot  be  said  in  praise  of  the  teachers, 
supervising  principals,  superintendent  and  trustees,  for  it  is 
by  their  combined  efforts  largely  that  the  schools  have  at- 
tained that  degree  of  excellence  for  which  they  are  known. 
Howard  University  and  Wayland  Seminary,  placed  on  heights 
commanding  beautiful  views  of  Washington,  are  among  the 
results  of  emancipation.  These  institutions  grew  out  of  the 
necessities  of  the  times  to  meet  the  wants  of  colored  youth 
for  higher  and  professional  education.  It  is  proper  that  we 
should  take  pride  in  our  schools  and  institutions  of  learning, 
for  they  are  the  chief  instruments  through  which  our  children 
are  to  receive  the  training  which  will  fit  them  to  properly  dis- 
charge the  duties  that  will  afterward  devolve  upon  them  as 
men  and  women  and  to  elevate  the  race  to  an  equality  of  de- 
velopment and  enlightenment  with  other  peoples. 

We  often  hear  the  question  asked,  "  What  are  we  to  do  with 
the  Americanized  negro?"  Articles  have  appeared  in  news- 
papers, pamphlets,  and  magazines  -giving  what  the  author  re- 


fards  as  a  proper  solution  of  the  negro  problem,  so-called.  But 
ask  why  should  there  be  a  negro  problem  any  more  than  a 
problem  for  any  other  class  of  the  American  people  ?  We  need 
not  go  far  to  seek  the  answer.  It  is  found  in  the  fact  that 
in  certain  parts  of  our  country  the  people  are  not  willing  to 
receive  the  negro  into  full  fellowship  and  to  grant  him  the 
civil  and  political  rights  enjoyed  in  common  by  other  citi-_ 
zens.  They  take  from  him  the  means  of  elevation  and  then") 
reproach  him  with  inferiority.  They  would  rejoice  to  rid  thej 
country  of  his  presence  by  colonization,  but  seeing  the  utter 
hopelessness  of  the  colonization  scheme,  they  seek  to  inflame 
the  public  mind  against  him  by  constant  appeals  to  the  low 
and  narrow  prejudices  entertained  by  certain  classes  of 
the  American  people.  When  the  300  colored  citizens  from 
Cleveland  visited  President-elect  Garfield  at  Mentor,  he  said 
in  reply  to  the  address,  to  which  he  had  given  respectful  at- 
tention, that  he  did  not  profess  to  be  more  of  a  friend  to  col- 
ored men  than  hundreds  of  others,  but  he  was  in  favor  of 
giving,  and,  so  far  as  it  was  consistent  with  the  duties  of 
his  office,  would  give  them  opportunity  to  achieve  success  for 
themselves.  This  is  all  we  ask  to-day.  This  is  all  we  can 
reasonably  ask.  Give  us  fair  play,  equal  opportunity,  and 
we  will  work  out  our  own  destinies. 

Ten  years  ago,  in  this  city,  on  the  occasion  of  the  unveil- 
ing of  the  Freedman's  Monument  in  memory  of  Abraham 
Lincoln,  an  eminent  divine,  after  congratulating  the  orator 
of  the  day  upon  his  masterly  portrayal  of  the  character  of 
the  martyr  President,  turned  to  General  Grant  and  said : 
"  There  is  but  one  Frederick  Douglass."  This  distinguished 
citizen,  the  orator  who  paid  the  eloquent  tribute  to  the  mem- 
ory of  Mr.  Lincoln  on  the  occasion  referred  to,  the  Hon. 
Frederick  Douglass,  will  now  address  you. 

At  the  conclusion  of  Prof.  Gregory's  remarks  Mr.  Douglass 
said : 

FRIENDS  AND  FELLOW-CITIZENS  :  I  appear  before  you  again, 
and  for  the  third  time  since  my  residence  among  you,  to  as- 
sist in  the  celebration  of  the  abolition  of  slavery  in  the  Dis- 
trict of  Columbia.  And  while  I  highly  appreciate  the  honor 
and  the  confidence  implied  in  your  call  upon  me  to  do  so, 
when  I  consider  the  importance  of  the  task  it  has  imposed, 
I  can  say  in  all  sincerity,  as  I  have  said  before,  that  I  wish 
that  your  choice  of  speaker  had  fallen  upon  one  of  our  young 
men,  quite  as  well  qualified  to  serve  you  as  myself.  I  want 
to  see  them  coming  to  the  front  as  I  am  retiring  to  the  rear. 


Then  the  fact  that  I  have  several  times  addressed  you  upon 
subjects  naturally  suggested  by  the  recurrence  of  this  inter- 
esting anniversary  is,  of  itself,  somewhat  embarrassing.  It 
is  not  an  easy  task  to  speak  many  times  on  the  same  subject, 
before  the  same  audience,  without  repeating  the  same  views 
and  sentiments.  If,  therefore,  you  find  me  committing  this 
offence  to-day,  you  will  consider  the  difficulty  of  avoiding  it, 
and  also  that  the  same  views  and  sentiments  are  as  pertinent 
and  necessary  to-day  as  years  ago.  You  need  not  fear,  how- 
ever, that  I  shall  inflict  upon  you  any  one  of  my  former 
orations.  I  am  not  bound  by  any  such  necessity.  The  field 
is  broad,  and  the  material  is  abundant.  The  phases  of  public 
affairs  touching  the  colored  people  of  the  United  States  are 
never  stationary.  They  change  with  every  season,  and  often 
many  times  in  the  course  of  a  single  year.  There  is  no 
standing  still  for  anybody  in  this  world.  We  are  either  rising 
or  falling,  advancing  or  retreating. 

Last  year,  at  this  time,  we  were  confronted  with  an  un- 
usual and  somewhat  alarming  state  of  facts.  We  stood  at 
the  gateway  of  a  new  and  strange  administration.  After 
wandering  about  during  twenty-four  years,  seeking  rest  and 
finding  none,  often  hungry  and  sometimes  thirsty,  and,  though 
not  feeding  swine  or  eating  husks,  yet  not  unfrequently  found 
in  very  low  places  and  wasting  the  substance  of  the  national 
family,  our  prodigal  Democratic  son,  with  one  tremendous 
effort  of  will,  returned  to  the  White  House,  and  was  received 
with  every  demonstration  of  parental  joy  and  gladness.  Of 
course  this  did  not  take  place  without  a  murmur  of  complaint 
and  disapproval.  There  was  an  elder  brother  here  as  else- 
where ;  one  who  had  remained  at  home,  worked  the  old  farm, 
kept  the  fences  in  repair  ;  one  who  had  done  his  duty  and 
made  things  in  the  old  house  comfortable  and  pleasant  gen- 
erally. Indeed,  but  for  his  elder  brother,  the  Republican 
party,  the  house  would  have  been  broken  up,  the  whole  fam- 
ily turned  out  of  doors  and  scattered  in  poverty  and  destitu- 
tion. It  was  natural,  therefore,  when  this  elder  brother  saw 
the  great  doings  at  the  White  House  one  year  ago,  when  he 
heard  the  music  and  saw  the  dancing,  and  learned  what  it  was 
all  about,  he  was  not  over  well  pleased,  and  thought  his 
father  not  only  soft-hearted,  but  a  little  soft-headed,  and  a 
trifle  ungrateful,  if  not  crazy  withal.  But  elder  brothers,  you 
-  know,  are  usually  reasonable  and  patient,  and  are  generally 
quite  submissive  to  parental  authority,  and  though  he  knew 


the  bad  character  of  the  young  truant  who  had  now  come 
home,  he  hoped  he  had  reformed.  How  far  this  cheerful  and 
patient  hope  has  been  justified  by  one  year  of  this  adminis- 
tration I  will  not  now  stop  to  say ;  I  may,  however,  remark, 
as  a  prelude  to  what  I  shall  hereafter  say,  that  as  far  as  the 
colored  people  of  the  country  are  concerned,  their  condition 
seems  no  better  and  not  much  worse  than  under  previous  ad- 
ministrations. Lynch  law,  violence,  and  murder  have  gone 
on  about  the  same  as  formerly,  and  without  the  least  show  of 
Federal  interference  or  popular  rebuke.  The  Constitution  has 
been  openly  violated  with  the  usual  impunity,  and  the  colored 
vote  has  been  as  completely  nullified,  suppressed,  and  scouted 
as  if  the  fifteenth  amendment  formed  no  part  of  the  Consti- 
tution, and  as  if  every  colored  citizen  of  the  South  had  been 
struck  dead  by  lightning  or  blown  to  atoms  by  dynamite. 
There  have  also  been  the  usual  number  of  outrages  committed 
against  the  civil  rights  of  colored  citizens  on  highways  and 
by-ways,  by  land  and  by  water,  and  the  courts  of  the  country, 
under  the  decision  of  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  United  States, 
have  shown  the  same  disposition  to  punish  the  innocent  and 
shield  the  guilty,  as  during  the  presidency  of  Mr.  Arthur. 
Perhaps  colored  men  have  fared  a  little  worse,  so  far  as  office- 
holding  is  concerned.  In  some  of  the  Departments,  I  am 
sorry  to  say,  there  have  been  many  dismissals,  but,  even  in 
this  respect,  colored  men  have  not  suffered  much  more  than 
one-armed  soldiers,  and  other  loyal  white  men,  whose  places 
were  wanted  by  deserving  Democrats.  Upon  the  whole, 
candor  compels  me  to  admit  that  this  twenty-fourth  year  of 
our  freedom  finds  us  thcuightlul,  somewhat  mystified  by  what 
is  passing  around  us,  but  hopeful,  strong  to  suffer,  and  yet 
strong  to  strive,  with  a  moderate  degree  of  faith  that,  under 
the  Constitution  and  its  amendments,  we  shall  yet  be  clothed 
with  dignity  of  freedom  and  American  citizenship.  But  more 
of  this  in  the  right  place. 

I  take  it  that  no  apology  is  needed  for  these  annual  cele- 
brations, for,  notwithstanding  the  unfriendly  outlook  of 
affairs,  we  have  yet  much  over  which  to  rejoice.  Besides, 
such  demonstrations  of  popular  feeling  in  regard  to  large 
benefits  received  and  progress  made,  are  consistent  with  and 
creditable  to  human  nature.  They  have  been  observed  all 
along  the  line  of  by -gone  ages,  and  are  peculiar  to  no  class, 
clime,  race,  or  color.  From  the  day  that  Moses  is  said  to 
have  smote  the  Bed  Sea,  and  the  Hebrews  passed  safely  over 


from  Egyptian  bondage,  leaving  Pharaoh  overwhelmed  and 
struggling  with  that  hell  of  waters,  down  to  the  4th  of  July, 
1776,  when  the  fathers  of  this  Republic  threw  off  the  British 
yoke,  declared  their  independence,  and  appealed  to  the  god 
of  battles,  similar  events  to  that  which  we  now  celebrate  have 
been  gratefully  and  joyfully  commemorated. 

If,  for  any  reason,  I  feel  like  apologizing  to-day,  it  is  not 
for  this  celebration,  but  for  an  incident  connected  with  it, 
and  by  which  it  is  greatly  marred.  For  the  first  time  since 
the  emancipation  of  the  slaves  of  the  District  of  Columbia 
we  have  two  celebrations  in  progress  at  the  same  time.  This 
should  not  be  so.  By  this  fact  we  have  said  to  the  world 
that  we  are  not  sufficiently  united  as  a  people  to  celebrate 
our  freedom  together.  This  spectacle  of  division  among  men 
working  for  a  common  cause  is  not  pleasing  in  any  case,  and 
is  especially  displeasing  and  shocking  in  this  instance. 
Without  attempting  to  show  which  party  is  to  blame  in  this 
controversy,  I  have  no  hesitation  in  saying  that  this  division 
itself  is  most  unfortunate,  disgraceful,  and  mortifying.  It  can- 
not fail,  I  fear,  to  make  an  unfavorable  impression  for  us  upon 
thoughtful  observers.  But,  standing  here  as  your  mouth- 
piece to-day,  I  beg  the  disgusted  public  to  remember  that 
colored  men  are  but  men,  and  that  the  best  men  will  some- 
times differ,  and  will  often  differ  more  widely  and  violently 
about  trifles  than  about  things  of  substance,  where  a  differ- 
ence of  opinion  would  be  at  least  dignified.  Something  must, 
however,  be  pardoned  to  the  spirit  of  liberty,  especially  in 
those  who  have  but  recently  acquired  liberty.  There  is  al- 
ways some  awkwardness  in  the  gait  of  men  who,  for  the  first 
time,  have  on  their  Sunday  clothes.  When  we  have  enjoyed 
the  blessings  of  liberty  longer  we  shall  put  away  such  child- 
ish things  and  shall  act  more  wisety.  We  shall  think  more 
of  a  common  cause  and  its  requirements  and  less  of  obliga- 
tion to  support  the  claims  of  rival  individual  leaders.  Depend 
upon  it,  a  repetition  of  this  spectacle  will  bring  our  celebra- 
tions into  disgrace  and  make  them  despicable. 

The  thought  is  already  gaining  ground,  that  we  have  not 
heretofore  received  the  best  influence  which  this  anniversary 
is  capable  of  exerting ;  that  tinsel  show,  gaudy  display,  and 
straggling  processions,  which  empty  the  alleys  and  dark 
places  of  our  city  into  the  broad  daylight  of  our  thronged 
streets  and  avenues,  thus  thrusting  upon  the  public  view  a 
vastly  undue  proportion  of  the  most  unfortunate,  unim- 


proved,  and  unprogressive  class  of  the  colored  *  people,  and 
thereby  inviting  public  disgust  and  contempt,  and  repelling 
the  more  thrifty  and  self-respecting  among  us,  is  a  positive 
hurt  to  the  whole  colored  population  of  this  city.  These 
annual  celebrations  of  ours  should  be  so  arranged  as  to  make 
a  favorable  impression  for  us  upon  ourselves  and  upon  our 
fellow-citizens.  They  should  bring  into  notice  the  very  best 
elements  of  our  colored  population,  and  in  what  is  said  and 
done  on  these  occasions,  we  should  find  a  deeper  and  broader 
comprehension  of  our  relations  and  duties.  They  should  kindle 
in  us  higher  hopes,  nobler  aspirations,  and  stimulate  us  to  more 
earnest  endeavors ;  they  should  help  us  to  shorten  the  dis- 
tance between  ourselves  and  the  more  highly  advanced  and 
highly  favored  people  among  whom  we  are.  If  they  fail  to 
produce,  in  some  measure,  such  results,  they  had  better  be 
discontinued.  I  am  sure  that  such  a  lecture  as  I  have  now 
given  on  this  point  may  be  distasteful  to  a  part  of  this 
assembly.  But  I  can  say,  in  all  truth,  that  nothing  short 
of  a  profound  desire  to  promote  the  best  interests  of  all 
concerned,  has  emboldened  me  to  run  the  risk  of  such  dis- 
pleasure, and  I  hope  the  motive  will  excuse  my  offence. 

And  now,  fellow-citizens,  I  turn  away  from  this  and  other 
merely  race  considerations,  to  those  common  to  all  our  fel- 
low citizens,  yet  happily  those  in  which  we,  too,  are  included. 
I  call  attention  to  the  proposed  celebration  of  the  centennial 
anniversary  of  our  present  form  of  government.  The  year 
1789  will  never  cease  to  be  memorable  in  the  history  and 
progress  of  the  American  people.  It  was  in  that  year  of 
grace  that  the  founders  of  the  American  Eepublic,  having 
tested  the  strength  and  discovered  the  weakness  of  the  old 
articles  of  colonial  confederation,  bravely  decided  to  lay  those 
articles  aside  as  no  longer  adequate  to  successful  and  per- 
manent national  existence,  and  resolved  to  form  a  new  com- 
pact and  adopt  a  new  constitution,  better  suited,  in  their 
judgment,  to  their  national  character  and  to  their  governmental 
wants.  In  this  instrument  they  set  forth  six  definite  and  car- 
dinal objects  to  be  attained  by  this  new  departure.  These  were : 
First.  "  To  form  a  more  perfect  union."  Second.  "  To  es- 
tablish justice."  Third.  "  To  provide  for  the  common  de- 
fense." Fourth.  "  To  insure  domestic  tranquillity."  Fifth. 
"  To  promote  the  general  welfare."  And  sixth.  "  Secure  the 
blessings  of  liberty  to  ourselves  and  our  posterity."  Per- 
haps there  never  was  an  instrument  framed  by  men  at  the  be- 


ginning  of  any  national  career  designed  to  accomplish  nobler 
objects  than  those  set  forth  in  the  preamble  of  this  constitu- 
tion. They  are  objects  worthy  of  a  great  nation,  worthy  of 
those  who  gave  to  the  world  the  immortal  Declaration  of  In- 
dependence, in  which  they  asserted  the  equal  rights  of  man, 
and  boldly  declared  in  the  face  of  all  the  divine  right  govern- 
ments of  Europe  the  doctrine  that  governments  derive  their 
right  to  govern  from  the  consent  of  the  governed. 

How  far  these  fundamental  objects,  solemnly  set  forth  in 
the  Constitution,  have  been  realized  by  the  practical  opera- 
tion of  the  Government  created  under  it,  I  will  not  stop  just 
now  to  state  or  explain.  Whether  the  Union  has  been  per- 
fectly formed,  whether  under  the  yegis  of  the  Constitution  the 
sacred  principle  of  justice  has  been  established,  whether  the 
general  welfare  has  been  promoted,  or  whether  the  blessings 
of  liberty  have  been  secured,  are  questions  to  which  refer- 
ence may  be  made  in  a  subsequent  part  of  this  address.  For 
the  present  I  refer  to  this  grand  starting  point  in  the  nation's 
history  for  another  purpose.  I  wish  simply  to  remind  you 
of  the  flight  of  time ;  that  we  are  now  drawing  near  the  close 
of  the  first  century  of  our  national  existence,  and  the  notice 
that  should  be  taken  of  that  fact.  Without  going  into  the 
general  questions  raised  a  moment  ago,  as  to  the  fulfillment 
of  what  was  promised  in  the  Constitution,  we  may,  in  pass- 
ing, affirm  what  must  be  admitted  by  all,  that  under  this 
form  of  government  so  happily  described,  and  so  faithfully 
upheld  by  the  great  lamented  Abraham  Lincoln,  as  "  Gov- 
ernment of  the  people,  by  the  people,  and  for  the  people," 
this  nation  has  become  rich,  great,  progressive,  and  strong. 
This  fact  is  cheerfully  acknowledged  by  the  whole  sisterhood 
of  contemporaneous  nations.  From  thirteen  comparatively 
weak  and  sparsely  populated  States,  skirting  and  hovering 
along  the  line  of  our  Atlantic  coast,  constituting  a  mere  string 
of  isolated  communities,  we  now  have  thirty-eight  States 
covering  our  broad  continent,  extending  from  east  to  west, 
and  from  sea  to  sea.  Under  our  Constitution  the  desert  and 
solitary  places  have  been  reclaimed  and  made  to  blossom  as 
the  rose.  From  a  population  of  seven  millions,  we  have 
reached  the  enormous  number  of  fifty  millions ;  and  in  less 
than  half  a  century  we  shall  have  double  that  number.  Such 
an  augmentation  of  wealth,  power,  and  population  has  no 
example  in  the  experience  of  any  nation  in  ancient  or  modern 
times.  The  mind  grows  dizzy  in  contemplation  of  the  future 


of  a  country  so  great  and  so  increasing  in  greatness,  and  to 
whose  greatness  there  seems  to  be  no  limit.  The  question 
naturally  arises,  what  is  to  be  the  effect  of  such  accumulated 
wealth,  such  vast  increase  of  population,  such  expanded  do-  ^ 
main,  and  such  augmentation  of  national  power  ?  Plainly 
enough  either  one  of  two  very  opposite  conditions  may  arise. 
It  may  either  blast  or  bless,  it  may  lift  us  to  heaven  or  sink 
us  to  perdition. 

If  we  shall  become  proud,  selfish,  imperious,  oppressive, 
and  rapacious  ;  if  we  shall  persist  in  trampling  on  the  weak 
and  exalting  the  strong,  worshipping  the  rich  and  despising 
the  poor,  our  doom  as  a  nation  is  already  foreshadowed. 

That  Almighty  Power  recognized  in  one  form  or  another  by 
all  thoughtful  men ;  that  Almighty  Power  which  controls  every 
atom  of  the  earth,  and  governs  the  universe  ;  that  Almighty 
Power  which  stood  and  measured  the  globe,  which  beheld  and 
drove  asunder  the  nations,  will  surely  deal  with  us  in  the  fu- 
ture as  that  Power  has  dealt  in  the  past  with  other  wicked 
nations — it  will  bring  us  to  dust  and  ashes.  The  rule  of  life 
for  individuals  and  for  nations  is  the  same.  Neither  can 
escape  the  consequences  of  transgression.  As  they  sow,  so 
shall  they  reap.  There  is  no  salvation  for  either  outside  of 
a  life  of  truth  and  justice.  Contradiction  to  this  in  theory, 
for  either  individuals  or  nations,  is  a  damning  heresy ;  and 
contradiction  to  this  in  practice  is  certain  destruction. 

Large  and  imposing  plans  are  just  now  proposed,  and  are 
maturing,  for  the  appropriate  celebration  of  this  first  centen- 
nial year  of  our  national  life.  If  these  plans  should  be  per- 
fected and  executed,  as  they  probably  will  be,  and  as  they 
certainly  should  be,  Washington  will  witness  a  demonstration 
in  this  line  far  transcending  in  grandeur  and  sublimity  the 
centennial  exposition  in  the  city  of  Philadelphia  ten  years  ago. 

These  celebrations,  like  our  own,  have  large  uses.     They 
serve  as  lofty  pedestals  or  platforms  from  which  the  national  ^    ; 
patriotism  and  intelligence  may  survey  the  past,  and,  in  some 
sense,  penetrate  and  divine  the  national  future. 

It  is  also  fit  and  proper  that  our  young  and  beautiful 
city  of  Washington  should  be  the  theatre  of  such  a  grand 
national  centennial  demonstration.  It  is  the  capital  of  the 
nation,  and  is,  in  some  sense,  the  shining  sun  of  our  national 
system,  around  which  our  thirty-eight  States,  linked  and  inter- 
linked in  one  unbroken  national  interest,  revolve  in  union. 
Upon  this  spot  no  one  citizen  has  more  rights  than  another. 


The  right  to  be  here  is  vested  in  all  alike.  Distance  does 
not  diminish  or  alienate,  contiguity  does  not  increase  any 
man's  right  on  this  soil.  In  this  capital  of  the  nation  Cali- 
fornia is  equal  to  Virginia,  and,  as  Webster  said  of  Bunker 
Hill,  "  Wherever  else  we  may  be  strangers,  we  are  all  at  home 

As  a  part  of  the  people  of  this  great  country,  we  may  feel 
ourselves  included.  We  represent  the  class  which  has  en- 
riched our  soil  with  its  blood,  watered  it  with  its  tears,  and 
defended  it  with  its  strong  arms,  but  have  hitherto  been  ex- 
cluded from  all  part  in  our  national  glory.  Now,  however, 
all  is  changed.  We  may  look  forward  with  pleasure  to  the 
promised  National  Centennial  Exposition,  and  take  some 
credit  to  ourselves  for  helping  to  make  the  District  of  Colum- 
bia a  suitable  place  for  such  a  display.  We  have  at  least 
done  a  large  proportion  of  the  most  laborious  and  needed 
work  to  this  end. 

The  wisdom  of  the  framers  of  the  Constitution  af  the 
United  States  in  granting  to  the  nation,  through  its  Congress, 
exclusive  legislative  jurisdiction  over  the  District  of  Colum- 
bia, has  in  nothing  been  more  abundantly  and  happily  vin- 
dicated than  in  the  abolition  of  slavery,  and  in  making  it  the 
freest  territory  of  this  country.  The  benefits  of  this  act  are, 
however,  not  confined  to  the  colored  people.  They  are 
shared  by  all  the  people  of  this  District ;  not  more  by  the 
colored  than  by  the  white  people. 

Washington  owes  nothing  to  Maryland  or  Virginia  (though 
born  of  those  parents)  in  comparison  to  its  debt  to  the  nation. 
Through  the  National  Government  it  has  become  the  elegant 
and  beautiful  city  that  it  is.  It  is  the  nation  that  has  graded 
and  paved  its  broad  and  far-reaching  streets  and  avenues ;  it 
is  the  nation  that  has  fenced  and  beautified  its  numerous 
parks  and  reservations,  and  made  them  the  joy  of  our  child- 
ren, and  the  admiration  of  our  visitors  ;  it  is  the  nation  that 
has  adorned  its  ample  public  squares  and  circles  with  choice 
flowers,  flowing  fountains,  and  imposing  statuary ;  it  is  the 
nation  that  has  erected  enduring  monuments  of  bronze  and 
marble  in  honor  of  our  statesmen,  warriors,  patriots,  and 
heroes  ;  it  is  the  nation  that  has  built  here  those  vast  struc- 
tures, the  different  departments,  and  crowned  yonder  hill 
with  a  Capitol,  one  of  the  proudest  architectural  wonders  of 
the  world ;  it  is  the  nation  that  has  built  Washington  Monu- 
ment, the  pride  of  the  city,  the  tallest  structure  that  ever 


rose  from  the  ground  toward  heaven  at  the  bidding  of  human 
pride,  patriotism,  or  piety,  standing  there  in  full  view  of  all 
comers,  whether  approaching  by  land  or  water,  with  its  base 
deep  down  in  the  earth,  and  its  capstone  against  the  sky,  re- 
ceiving and  reflecting  every  light  and  shadow  of  the  passing 
hour,  steady  alike  in  sunshine  and  storm,  defying  lightning, 
whirlwind,  and  earthquake — its  grandeur  and  sublimity,  like 
Niagara,  impress  us  more  and  more  the  longer  we  hold  it  in 
range  of  vision. 

But  the  nation,  as  I  have  already  said,  has  done  more  for 
the  District  of  Columbia  than  to  clothe  it  with  material  great- 
ness and  splendor.  It  has,  by  the  act  of  emancipation,  im- 
parted to  it  a  moral  beauty.  It  has  not  only  made  it  a  plea- 
sure to  the  eye,  but  a  joy  to  the  heart.  No  material  adorn- 
ment or  addition  has  ever  done  or  could  do  for  this  District 
what  the  abolition  of  slavery  has  done.  The  nation  did  a 
great  and  good  thing  fifteen  years  ago  by  giving  us  a  local 
government,  and  a  Shepherd  that  lifted  the  city  out  of  its 
deep  mud  and  above  its  blinding  dust  and  put  it  on  the  way 
to  its  present  greatness,  but  it  did  a  greater  and  better  thing 
when  it  lifted  it  out  of  the  mire  of  barbarism  coincident  with 

Fellow-citizens,  we  are  proud  to-day,  and  justly  proud,  of 
the  prosperity  and  the  increasing  liberality  of  Washington. 
With  all  our  fellow-citizens  we  behold  it  with  pride  and  plea- 
sure rising  and  spreading  noiselessly  around  us,  almost  like 
the  temple  of  Solomon,  without  the  sound  of  a  hammer. 
New  faces  meet  us  at  the  corners  of  the  streets  and  greet  us 
in  the  market-places.  Conveniences  and  improvements  are 
multiplying  on  every  hand.  We  walk  in  the  shade  of  its 
beautiful  trees  by  day  and  in  the  rays  of  its  soft  electric 
lights  by  night.  We  make  it  warm  where  it  is  cool,  and 
cool  where  it  is  warm,  and  healthy  where  it  is  noxious.  Our 
magnificence  fills  the  stranger  and  sojourner  with  admiration 
and  wonder.  The  contrast  between  the  old  time  of  slavery 
and  the  new  dispensation  of  liberty  looms  upon  us  on  every 
hand.  We  feel  it  in  the  very  air  we  breathe,  and  in  the 
friendly  aspect  of  all  around  us.  But  time  would  fail  to  tell 
of  the  vast  and  wonderful  advancement  in  civilization  made 
in  this  city  by  the  abolition  of  slavery. 

Perhaps  a  better  idea  could  be  formed  of  what  has  been 
done  for  Washington  and  for  us  by'imagining  what  would  be 
the  case  in  a  return  to  the  old  condition  of  things.  Imagine 


the  wheels  of  progress  reversed  ;  imagine  that  by  some 
strange  and  mysterious  freak  of  fortune  slavery,  with  all 
its  horrid  concomitants,  was  revived  ;  imagine  that  under 
the  dome  of  yonder  Capitol  legislation  was  carried  on,  as 
formerly,  by  men  with  pistols  in  their  belts  and  bullets 
in  their  pockets  ;  imagine  the  right  of  speech  denied,  the 
right  of  petition  stamped  out,  the  press  of  the  District 
muzzled,  and  a  word  in  the  streets  against  slavery  the 
sign  for  a  mob  ;  imagine  a  lone  woman  like  Miss  Myrtilla 
Miner,  having  to  defend  her  right  to  teach  colored  girls  to 
read  and  write  with  a  pistol  in  her  hand,  here  in  this 
very  city,  now  dotted  all  over  with  colored  schools,  which 
rival  in  magnificence  the  white  schools  of  any  other  city  of 
the  Union ;  imagine  this,  and  more,  and  ask  yourselves  the 
question  ^"What  progress  has  been  made  in  liberty  and  civi- 
lization within  the  borders  of  this  capital  ?  Further  on  let 
us  ask :  Of  what  avail  would  be  our  cloud-capped  towers,  our 
gorgeous  palaces,  and  our  solemn  temples  if  slavery  again 
held  sway  here  ?  Of  what  avail  would  be  our  marble  halls 
if  once  more  they  resounded  with  the  crack  of  the  slave  whip, 
the  clank  of  the  fetter,  and  the  rattle  of  chains  ;  if  slave  auc- 
tions were  held  in  front  of  the  halls  of  justice,  and  chain- 
gangs  were  marched  over  Pennsylvania  avenue  to  the  Long 
Bridge  for  the  New  Orleans  market  ?  Of  what  avail  would 
be  our  state  dinners,  our  splendid  receptions  if,  like  Baby- 
lon of  old,  our  people  were  making  merchandise  of  God's 
image,  trafficking  in  human  blood  and  in  the  souls  and  bodies 
of  men  ?  Were  this  District  once  more  covered  with  this 
moral  blight  and  mildew  you  would  hear  of  no  plans,  as  now, 
for  celebrating  within  its  borders  the  centennial  anniversary 
of  the  adoption  of  the  Constitution  of  the  United  States. 
Bold  and  audacious  as  were  the  advocates  of  slavery  in  the 
olden  time  they  would  have  been  ashamed  to  invite  here  the 
representatives  of  the  civilized  world  to  inspect  the  workings 
of  their  slave  system.  To  have  done  so  would  have  been 
like  inviting  a  clean  man  to  touch  pitch,  a  humane  man  to 
witness  an  execution,  a  tender-hearted  woman  to  witness  a 
slaughter.  In  its  boldest  days  slavery  drew  in  its  claws  and 
presented  a  velvet  paw  to  strangers.  They  knew  it  was  like 
Lord  Granby's  character,  which  could  only  pass  without 
reprobation  as  it  passed  withoiit  observation.  Emancipation 
liberated  the  master  as  well  as  the  slave.  The  fact  that  our 
citizens  are  now  loudly  proclaiming  Washington  to  be  the 


right  place  for  the  celebration  of  the  discovery  of  the  conti- 
nent by  Columbus,  and  the  adoption  of  the  Constitution  of 
the  United  States,  is  an  acknowledgement  of  and  attestation  of 
the  higher  civilization  that  has,  in  their  judgment,  come  here 
with  the  abolition  of  slavery.  They  no  longer  dread  the 
gaze  of  civilized  men.  They  no  longer  fear  lest  a  word  of 
liberty  should  fall  into  the  ear  of  a  trembling  captive  and 
awaken  his  manhood.  They  are  no  longer  required  to  de- 
fend with  their  lips  what  they  must  have  condemned  in  their 
hearts.  When  the  galling  chain  dropped  from  the  limbs  of 
the  slave  the  mantle  of  shame  dropped  from  the  brows  of 
their  masters.  The  emancipation  of  the  one  was  the  de- 
liverance of  the  other ;  so  that  this  day,  in  fact,  belongs  to 
the  one  as  truly  as  it  belongs  to  the  other,  though  it  is  left  to 
us  alone  to  keep  it  in  memory. 

It  is  usual  on  occasions  of  this  kind,  not  only  to  set  forth,, 
as  I  have  in  some  measure  done,  what  has  been  gained  by 
the  abolition  of  slavery,  but  also  to  speak  of  the  caused 
and  instrumentalities  which  contributed  to  this  grand  result. 
If  this  were  my  first  appearance  before  you  on  similar  an- 
niversaries, I  should  feel  it  entirely  proper  to  do  so  now  ; 
but  having  discharged  this  duty  faithfully  and  fully  in 
several  former  addresses,  there  is  no  special  reason  for  a 
repetition  of  it  in  this  instance.  In  one  of  those  addresses 
I  specially  endeavored  to  trace,  and  did  trace  with  more  or 
less  success,  the  history  of  the  earliest  utterances  of  anti- 
slavery  sentiments  in  this  country  and  in  England.  I  de- 
scribed the  rise,  progress,  and  final  triumph  of  the  abolition 
movement  in  both  countries.  I  have  in  no  case  omitted  to  do 
justice  to  the  noble  band  of  men  and  women  who  espoused  the 
cause  of  the  slave  in  the  early  days  of  its  weakness,  and 
when  to  do  so  was  to  make  themselves  of  no  reputation  and 
subjects  of  the  vilest  abuse.  I  have  held  up  their  example 
of  virtuous  self-sacrifice  to  the  admiration  and  imitation  of 
all  who  would  serve  the  human  family  in  its  march  from 
barbarism  to  a  higher  state  of  civilization.  In  my  judgment 
there  never  was  a  band  of  reformers  more  unselfish,  more 
consistent  with  their  principles,  more  ardent  in  their  devo- 
tion to  any  cause  than  were  these  early  anti-slavery  men 
and  women  of  this  country. 

The  charge  is  sometimes  made  that  the  colored  people  are 
ungrateful  to  their  benefactors.  In  my  judgment  no  charge 
could  be  more  unjust.  In  whatever  else  they  have  failed, 


they  have  ever  shown  a  laudable  sense  of  gratitude.  The 
names  of  William  Lloyd  Garrison,  Wendell  Phillips,  John 
P.  Hale,  Charles  Sumner,  Gerrit  Smith,  Abraham  Lincoln, 
Ulysses  S.  Grant,  and  a  host  of  others  are  never  pronounced 
by  us  but  with  sentiments  of  high  appreciation  and  sincere 

Of  course  I  cannot  deny  that  there  are  those  amongst  us 
who,  either  thoughtlessly  or  selfishly,  or  both,  dare  to  deny 
their  obligations  to  the  great  Eepublican  party  and  its  lead- 
ers. They  insist  upon  it  that  freedom  came  to  them  only  as 
an  act  of  military  necessity.  They  see  in  it  no  sentiment  of 
justice,  no  moral  preference.  They  profess  to  see  no  differ- 
ence between  the  Eepublican  party  and  the  Democratic  party, 
and  insist  that  one  party  has  no  more  claim  to  their  support 
than  the  other.  Such  men  are  about  as  ready  to  join  one 
party  as  the  other.  Perhaps  they  even  lean  a  little  more  to 
the  Democratic  than  to  the  Kepublican  party.  I  admit  that 
were  they  fair  representatives  of  the  colored  people  of  the 
United  States  the  charge  of  ingratitude  might  be  very  easily 
sustained.  But,  happily,  such  men  do  not  represent  the  sen- 
timents of  the  colored  people,  but  greatly  and  flagrantly  mis- 
represent them.  The  colored  people  do  see  a  difference  be- 
tween the  two  parties,  as  broad  as  the  moral  universe  and  as 
palpable  as  the  difference  between  the  character  of  Moses 
and  that  of  Pharaohf^  For  one  I  never  will  forget  that  every 
concession  of  liberty  made  to  the  colored  people  of  the 
United  States  has  come  to  them  through  the  action  of  the 
Eepublican  party,  ^and  that  all  the  opposition  made  to  those 
concessions  has  come  from  the  Democratic  party.  Any  col- 
ored man  who  either  denies  this  or  endeavors  to  disparage  that 
party  and  belittle  their  concessions  by  attributing  them  en- 
tirely to  selfish  and  cowardly  motives  brands  himself  as  un- 
just, uncharitable,  and  ungrateful.  The  blindness  of  such 
men  is  very  surprising.  Do  they  not  see  that  in  denying  their 
j  obligations  to  the  Eepublican  party  they  only  invite  the 
scorn  and  contempt  of  the  Democratic  party  ?  Do  they  not 
understand  that  they  are  advertising  themselves  as  base  po- 
litical ingrates  ?  Do  they  not  know  that  they  are  giving  no- 
tice to  the  Democratic  party — the  party  that  they  are  just 
now  aiming  to  conciliate — that  they  will  be  as  unjust  and  un- 
grateful to  that  party  for  any  concessions  from  it  as  they  de- 
clare themselves  to  be  to  the  Eepublican  party  for  what  that 
party  has  done  ? 


.But,  fellow-citizens,  while  I  gratefully  remember  the  im- 
portant services  of  the  Republican  party  in  emancipating  and 
enfranchising  the  colored  people  of  the  United  States,  I  do 
not  forget  that  the  work  of  that  party  is  most  sadly  incom- 
plete. We  are  yet,  as  a  people,  only  half  free.  The  promise 
of  liberty  remains  unfulfilled.  We  stand  to-day  only  in  the 
twilight  of  American  liberty.  The  sunbeams  of  perfect  day 
are  still  behind  the  mountains,  and  the  mission  of  the  Re- 
publican party  will  not  be  ended  until  the  persons,  the  prop- 
erty, and  the  ballot  of  the  colored  man  shall  be  as  well  pro- 
tected  in  every  State  of  the  American  Union  as  are  such 
rights  in  the  case  of  the  white  man.  The  Republican  party 
is  not  perfect.  It  is  cautious  even  to  the  point  of  timidity ; 
but  it  is,  nevertheless,  the  best  political  force  and  friend  we  ^ 

And  now  I  return  to  the  point  at  which  I  commenced  these 
remarks.  I  have  spoken  to  you  of  the  adoption  of  the  Con- 
stitution of  the  United  States  and  of  the  national  progress 
and  prosperity  under  that  instrument ;  I  have  called  your 
attention  to  the  noble  objects  announced  in  the  preamble  of 
the  Constitution.  I  did  not  stop  then  and  there  to  inquire 
how  far  those  objects,  so  solemnly  proclaimed  to  the  world, 
and  so  often  sworn  to,  have  been  attained,  or  to  point  out 
how  far  they  have  been  practically  disregarded  and  aban- 
doned by  the  Government  ordained  to  practically  carry  them 
out.  I  now  undertake  to  say  that  neither  the  Constitution"' 
of  1789,  nor  the  Constitution  as  amended  since  the  war,  is 
the  law  of  the  land.  That  Constitution  has  been  slain  in  the 
house  of  its  friends.  So  far  as  the  colored  people  of  the 
country  are  concerned,  the  Constitution  is  but  a  stupendous 
sham,  a  rope  of  sand,  a  Dead  Sea  apple,  fair  without  and  foul 
within,  keeping  the  promise  to  the  eye  and  breaking  it  to  the 
heart.  The  Federal  Government,  so  far  as  we  are  concerned, 
has  abdicated  its  functions  and  abandoned  the  objects  for  • 
which  the  Constitution  was  framed  and  adopted,  and  for  this  I 
arraign  it  at  the  bar  of  public  opinion,  both  of  our  own  coun- 
try and  that  of  the  civilized  world.  I  am  here  to  tell  the  truth, 
and  to  tell  it  without  fear  or  favor,  and  the  truth  is  that  neither 
the  Republican  party  nor  the  Democratic  party  has  yet  com- 
plied with  the  solemn  oath,  taken  by  their  respective  represent- 
atives, to  support  the  Constitution,  and  execute  the  laws  en-^ 
acted  under  its  provisions.  They  have  promised  us  law,  and 
abandoned  us  to  anarchy  ;  they  have  promised  protection,  and 


given  us  violence  ;  they  have  promised  us  fish,  and  given  us 
a  serpent.  A  vital  and  fundamental  object  which  they  have 
sworn  to  realize  to  the  best  of  their  ability,  is  the  establish- 
ment of  justice.  This  is  one  of  the  six  fundamental  objects 
for  which  the  Constitution  was  ordained  ;  but  when,  where, 
and  how  has  any  attempt  been  made  by  the  Federal  Govern- 
ment to  enforce  or  establish  justice  in  any  one  of  the  late 
slave-holding  States  ?  Has  any  one  of  our  Republican 
Presidents,  since  Grant,  earnestly  endeavored  to  establish 
justice  in  the  South  ?  According  to  the  highest  legal  author- 
ities, justice  is  the  perpetual  disposition  to  secure  to  every 
man,  by  due  process  of  law,  protection  to  his  person,  his 
property  and  his  political  rights.  "  Due  process  of  law  "  has 
a  definite  and  legal  meaning.  It  means  the  right  to  be  tried 
in  open  court  by  a  jury  of  one's  peers,  and  before  an  impar- 
tial judge.  It  means  that  the  accused  shall  be  brought  face 
to  face  with  his  accusers  ;  that  he  shall  be  allowed  to  call 
witnesses  in  his  defence,  and  that  he  shall  have  the  assistance 
of  counsel ;  it  means  that,  preceding  his  trial,  he  shall  be 
safe  in  the  custody  of  the  Government,  and  that  no  harm 
shall  come  to  him  for  any  alleged  offence  till  he  is  fairly  tried, 
convicted,  and  sentenced  by  the  court.  This  protection  is 
given  to  the  vilest  white  criminal  in  the  land.  He  cannot  be 
convicted  while  there  is  even  a  reasonable  doubt  in  the 
minds  of  the  jury  as  to  his  guilt.  But  to  the  colored  man 
accused  of  crime  in  the  Southern  States,  a  different  rule  is 
almost  everywhere  applied.  With  him,  to  be  accused  is  to 
be  convicted.  .  The  court  in  which  he  is  tried  is  a  lynching 
mob.  This  rnob  takes  the  place  of  "  due  process  of  law," 
of  judge,  jury,  witness,  and  counsel.  It  does  not  come  to 
ascertain  the  guilt  or  innocence  of  the  accused,  but  to  hang, 
shoot,  stab,  burn,  or  whip  him  to  death.  Neither  courts, 
jails,  nor  marshals  are  allowed  to  protect  him.  Every  day 
brings  us  tidings  of  these  outrages.  I  will  not  stop  to  detail 
individual  instances.  Their  name  is  legion.  Everybody 
knows  that  what  I  say  is  true,  and  that  no  power  is  employed 
by  the  Government  to  prevent  this  lawless  violence.  Yet  our 
chief  magistrates  and  other  officers,  Democratic  and  Eepub- 
f lican,  continue  to  go  through  the  solemn  mockery,  the  empty 
••  4,  w-  I  form  of  swearing  by  the  name  of  Almighty  God  that  they 
I  will  execute  the  laws  and  the  Constitution ;  that  they  will 
^establish  justice,  insure  domestic  tranquility,  and  secure  the 
blessings  of  liberty  to  ourselves  and  to  our  posterity. 


Only  a  few  weeks  ago,  at  Carrolton  Court-house,  Missis- 
sippi, in  the  absence  of  all  political  excitement,  while  the 
Government  of  the  nation,  as  well  as  the  government  of  the 
Southern  States,  was  safely  in  the  hands  of  the  Democratic 
party  ;  when  there  was  110  pending  election,  and  no  pretence 
of  a  fear  of  possible  negro  supremacy,  one  hundred  white 
citizens,  on  horseback,  armed  to  the  teeth,  deliberately  as- 
sembled and  in  cold  blood  opened  a  deadly  fire  upon  a  party 
of  peaceable,  unarmed  colored  men,  killing  eleven  of  them  on 
the  spot,  and  mortally  wounding  nine  others,  most  of  whojaa^ 
have  since  died.  The  sad  thing  is  that,  in  the  average  Ameri- 
can mind,  horrors  of  this  character  have  become  so  frequent 
since  the  slave-holding  rebellion  that  they  excite  neither  shame  /> 
nor  surprise  ;  neither  pity  for  the  slain,  nor  indignation  for 
the  slayers.  It  is  the  old  story  verified  : 

'•  Vice  is  a  monster  of  such  frightful  mien 
That,  to  be  hated,  needs  but  to  be  seen  ; 
But  seen  too  oft,  familiar  with  its  face, 
We  first  endure,  then  pity,  then  embrace." 

It  is  said  that  those  who  live  on  the  banks  of  Niagara 
neither  hear  its  thunder  nor  shudder  at  its  overwhelming 
power.  In  any  other  country  such  a  frightful  crime  as  the 
Carrolton  massacre — in  any  other  country  than  this  a  scream 
would  have  gone  up  from  all  quarters  of  the  land  for  the  ar- 
rest and  punishment  of  these  cold-blooded  murderers.  But 
alas  !  nothing  like  this  has  happened  here.  We  are  used  to 
the  shedding  of  innocent  blood,  and  the  heart  of  this  nation 
is  torpid,  if  not  dead,  to  the  natural  claims  of  justice  and  hu- 
manity where  the  victims  are  of  the  colored  race.  Where  are 
the  sworn  ministers  of  the  law  ?  Where  are  the  guardians  of 
public  justice  ? 

Where  are  the  defenders  of  the  Constitution  ?  What  hand 
in  House  or  Senate ;  what  voice  in  court  or  Cabinet  is 
uplifted  to  stay  this  tide  of  violence,  blood,  and  barbarism  ? 
Neither  governors,  presidents,  nor  statesmen  have  yet  declared 
that  these  barbarities  shall  be  stopped.  On  the  contrary, 
they  all  confess  themselves  powerless  to  protect  our  class  ; 
and  thus  you  and  I  and  all  of  us  are  struck  down,  and  bloody 
treason  flourishes  over  us.  In  view  of  this  confessed  im- 
potency  of  the  Government  and  this  apparent  insensibility 
of  the  nation  to  the  claims  of  humanity,  do  you  ask  me  why 
I  expend  my  time  and  breath  in  denouncing  these  wholesale 
murders  when  there  is  no  seeming  prospect  of  a  favorable  re- 


sponse  ?  I  answer  in  turn,  how  can  you,  how  can  any  man 
with  a  heart  in  his  breast  do  otherwise  when,  louder  than  the 
blood  of  Abel,  the  blood  of  his  fellow-men  cries  from  the 
ground  ? 

' '  Shall  tongues  be  mute  when  deeds  are  wrought 
Which  well  might  shame  extremest  hell  ? 

Shall  freeman  lock  the  indignant  thought  ? 
Shall  mercy's  bosom  cease  to  swell  ? 

Shall  honor  bleed,  shall  truth  succumb, 

Shall  pen,  and  press,  and  soul  be  dumb? 

By  all  around,  above,  below, 

Be  ours  the  indignant  answer,  No  !" 

In  a  former  address,  delivered  on  the  occasion  of  this  anni- 
versary, I  was  at  the  pains  of  showing  that  much  of  the  crime 
attributed  to  colored  people,  and  for  which  they  were  held 
responsible,  imprisoned,  and  murdered,  was,  in  fact,  com- 
mitted by  white  men  disguised  as  negroes.  I  affirm  that  all 
presumptions  in  courts  of  law  and  in  the  community  were 
against  the  negro,  and  that  color  was  the  safest  disguise  a 
white  man  could  assume  in  which  to  commit  crime ;  that  all 
he  had  to  do  to  commit  the  worst  crimes  with  impunity  was 
to  blacken  his  face  and  take  on  the  similitude  of  a  negro,  but 
even  this  disguise  sometimes  fails.  Only  a  few  days  ago  a 
Mr.  J.  H.  Justice,  an  eminent  citizen  of  Granger  county, 
Tenn.,  attempted  under  this  disguise  to  commit  a  cunningly 
devised  robbery  and  have  his  offence  fixed  upon  a  negro.  All 
worked  well  till  a  bullet  brought  him  to  the  ground  and  a  lit- 
tle soap  and  water  was  applied  to  his  face,  when  he  was  found 
to  be  no  negro  at  all,  but  a  very  respectable  white  citizen. 

Dark,  desperate,  and  forlorn  as  I  have  described  the  situa- 
tion, the  reality  exceeds  the  description.  In  most  of  the 
Gulf  States,  and  in  some  parts  of  the  border  States,  I  have 
sometimes  thought  that  we  should  be  about  as  well  situated 
for  the  purposes  of  justice  if  there  were  no  Constitution  of 
the  United  States  at  all ;  as  well  off  if  there  were  no  law  or 
law-makers,  no  constables,  no  jails,  no  courts  of  justice,  and 
we  were  left  entirely  without  the  pretence  of  legal  protection, 
for  we  are  now  at  the  mercy  of  midnight  raiders,  assassins, 
and  murderers,  and  we  should  only  be  in  the  same  condition  if 
these  pretended  safeguards  were  abandoned.  They  now  only 
mock  us.  Other  men  are  presumed  to  be  innocent  until  they 
are  proved  guilty.  We  are  presumed  to  be  guilty  until  we 
are  proved  to  be  innocent. 

The  charge  is  often  made  that  negroes  are  by  nature  the 


criminal  class  of  America  ;  that  they  furnish  a  larger  pro- 
portion of  petty  thieves  than  any  other  class.  I  admit  the 
charge,  but  deny  that  nature,  race,  or  color  has  anything  to 
do  with  the  fact.  Any  other  race  with  the  same  antecedents 
and  the  same  condition  would  show  a  similar  thieving  pro- 

The  American  people  have  this  lesson  to  learn  :  That 
where  justice  is  denied,  where  poverty  is  enforced,  where 
ignorance  prevails,  and  where  any  one  class  is  made  to  feel 
that  society  is  an  organized  conspiracy  to  oppress,  rob,  and 
degrade  them,  neither  persons  nor  property  will  be  safe.  I 
deny  that  nature  has  made  the  negro  a  thief  or  a  burglar. 
Look  at  these  black  criminals,  as  they  are  brought  into  your 
police  courts ;  view  and  study  their  faces,  their  forms,  and 
their  features,  as  I  have  done  for  years  as  Marshal  of  this 
District,  and  you  will  see  that  their  antecedents  are  written 
all  over  them.  Two  hundred  and  fifty  years  of  grinding 
slavery  has  done  its  work  upon  them.  They  stand  before 
you  to-day  physically  and  mentally  maimed  and  mutilated 
men.  Many  of  their  mothers  and  grandmothers  were  lashed 
to  agony  before  their  birth  by  cruel  overseers,  and  the  chil- 
dren have  inherited  in  their  faces  the  anguish  and  resent- 
ment felt  by  their  parents.  Many  of  these  poor  creatures 
have  not  been  free  long  enough  to  outgrow  the  marks  of  the 
lash  on  their  backs,  and  the  deeper  marks  on  their  souls. 
No,  no  !  It  is  not  nature  that  has  erred  in  making  the  negro. 
That  shame  rests  with  slavery.  It  has  twisted  his  limbs,  de- 
formed his  body,  flattened  his  feet,  and  distorted  his  features, 
and  made  him,  though  black,  no  longer  comely.  In  infancy 
he  slept  on  the  cold  clay  floor  of  his  cabin,  with  quick  cir- 
culation on  one  side,  and  tardy  circulation  on  the  other.  So 
that  he  has  grown  up  unequal,  unsyinmetrical,  and  is  no 
longer  a  vertical,  well-rounded  man,  in  body  or  in  mind. 
Time,  education,  and  training  will  restore  him  to  natural 
proportions,  for,  though  bruised  and  blasted,  he  is  yet  a  man. 

The  school  of  the  negro  since  leaving  slavery  has  not  been 
much  of  an  improvement  on  his  former  condition.  Individ- 
uals of  the  race  have  here  and  there  enjoyed  large  benefits 
from  emancipation,  and  the  result  is  seen  in  their  conduct, 
but  the  mass  have  had  their  liberty  coupled  with  hardships 
which  tend  strongly  to  keep  them  a  dwarfed  and  miserable 
class.  A  man  who  labors  ten  hours  a  day  with  pickaxe,  crow- 
bar, and  shovel,  and  has  a  family  to  support  and  house  rent 


to  pay,  and  receives  for  his  work  but  a  dollar  a  day,  and  what 
is  worse  still,  he  is  deprived  of  labor  a  large  part  of  his  time 
by  reason  of  sickness  and  the  weather,  in  his  poverty,  easily 
falls  before  the  temptation  to  steal  and  rob.  Hungry  men 
will  eat.  Desperate  men  will  commit  crime.  Outraged  men 
will  seek  revenge.  It  is  said  to  be  hard  for  a  rich  man  to 
enter  the  kingdom  of  heaven.  I  have  sometimes  thought  .it 
harder  still  for  a  poor  man  to  enter  the  kingdom  of  heaven. 
Man  is  so  constituted  that  if  he  cannot  get  a  living  honestly, 
he  will  get  it  dishonestly.  "  Skin  for  skin,"  as  the  devil  said 
of  Job.  "  All  that  a  man  hath  will  he  give  for  his  life."  Op- 
pression makes  even  wise  men  mad  and  reckless  ;  for  illus- 
tration I  pray  look  at  East  St.  Louis. 

In  the  Southern  States  to-day  a  landlord  system  is  in  oper- 
ation which  keeps  the  negroes  of  that  section  in  rags  and 
wretchedness,  almost  to  the  point  of  starvation.  As  a  rule, 
this  system  puts  it  out  of  the  power  of  the  negro  to  own  land. 
There  is,  to  be  sure,  no  law  forbidding  the  selling  of  land  to 
the  colored  people,  but  there  is  an  understanding  which  has 
the  full  effect  of  law.  That  understanding  is  that  the  land 
must  be  kept  in  the  hands  of  the  old  master  class.  The 
colored  people  can  rent  land,  it  is  true,  and  many  of  them 
do  rent  many  acres,  and  find  themselves  poorer  at  the  end 
of  the  year  than  at  the  beginning,  because  they  are  charged 
more  a  year  for  rent  per  acre  than  the  land  would  bring  at 
auction  sale.  The  landlord  and  tenant  system  of  Ireland, 
which  has  conducted  that  country  to  the  jaws  of  ruin,  bad  as 
it  is,  is  not  worse  than  that  which  prevails  at  this  hour  at 
the  South,  and  yet  the  colored  people  of  the  South  are  con- 
stantly reproached  for  their  poverty.  They  are  asked  to 
make  bricks  without  straw.  Their  hands  are  tied,  and  they 
are  asked  to  work.  They  are  forced  to  be  poor,  and  laughed 
at  for  their  destitution. 

I  am  speaking  mainly  to  colored  men  to-night,  but  I  want 
my  words  to  find  their  way  to  the  eyes,  ears,  heads  and  hearts 
of  my  white  fellow-countrymen,  hoping  that  some  among  them 
may  be  made  to  think,  some  hearts  among  them  will  be  made  to 
feel,  and  some  of  their  number  will  be  made  to  act.  I  appeal 
to  our  white  fellow-countrymen.  The  power  to  protect  is  in 
their  hands.  This  is  and  must  be  practically  the  white  man's 
government.  He  has  the  numbers  and  the  intelligence  to 
control  and  direct.  To  him  belongs  the  responsibility  of  its 
honor  or  dishonor,  its  glory  or  its  shame,  its  salvation  or  its 


ruin.  If  they  can  protect  the  rights  of  white  men  they  can 
protect  the  rights  of  black  men  ;  if  they  can  defend  the 
rights  of  American  citizens  abroad  they  can  defend  them  at 
home  ;  if  they  can  use  the  army  to  protect  the  rights  of  Chi- 
namen,  they  can  use  the  army  to  protect  the  rights  of  colored 
men.  The  only  trouble  is  the  will !  the  will !  the  will !  Here, 
as  elsewhere,  "  Where  there  is  a  will  there  is  a  way.'V 

I  have  now  said  not  all  that  could  be  said  but  enough  to 
indicate  the  relations  at  present  existing  between  the  white 
and  colored  people  of  this  country,  especially  the  relations 
subsisting  between  the  two  classes  of  the  late  slaveholding 
States.  Time  would  fail  me  to  trace  this  relation  in  all  its 
ramifications  ;  but  that  labor  is  neither  required  by  this  au- 
dience nor  by  the  country.  The  condition  of  the  emancipa- 
ted class  is  known  alike  to  ourselves  and  to  the  Government, 
to  pulpit  and  press,  and  to  both  of  the  great  political  parties. 
These  have  only  to  do  their  duty  and  all  will  be  well. 

One  use  of  this  annual  celebration  is  to  keep  the  subject 
of  our  grievances  before  the  people  and  government,  and  to\ 
urge  both  to  do  their  respective  parts  in  the  happy  solution 
of  the  race  problem.  The  weapons  of  our  warfare  for  equal 
rights  are  not  carnal  but  simple  truth,  addressed  to  the  hearts 
and  sense  of  justice  of  the  American  people.  If  this  fails 
we  are  lost.  We  have  no  armies  or  generals,  no  swords  or 
cannons  to  enforce  our  claims,  and  do  not  want  any. 

We  are  often  asked  with  an  air  of  reproach  by  white  men 
at  the  North  :  "  Why  don't  your  people  fight  their  way  to  the 
ballot-box?"  The  question  adds  insult  to  injury.  Whom 
are  we  called  upon  to  fight  ?  They  are  the  men  who  held  this 
nation,  with  all  its  tremendous  resources  of  men  and  money, 
at  bay  during  four  long  and  bloody  years.  Whom  are  we 
to  fight  ?  I  answer,  not  a  few  midnight  assassins,  not  the 
rabble  mob,  but  trained  armies,  skilled  generals  of  the  Con- 
federate army,  and  in  the  last  resort  we  should  have  to  meet 
the  Federal  army.  Though  that  army  cannot  now  be  em- 
ployed to  defend  the  weak  against  the  strong,  means  would 
certainly  be  found  for  its  employment  to  protect  the  strong 
against  the  weak.  In  such  a  case  insurrection  would  be  mad- 

But  there  is  another  remedy  proposed.  These  people  are 
advised  to  make  an  exodus  to  the  Pacific  slope.  With  the 
best  intentions  they  are  told  of  the  fertility  of  the  soil  and 
salubrity  of  the  climate.  If  they  should  tell  the  same  as  ex- 


isting  in  the  moon,  the  simple  question,  How  shall  they  get 
there  ?  would  knock  the  life  out  of  it  at  once.  Without 
money,  without  friends,  without  knowledge,  and  only  gaining 
enough  by  daily  toil  to  keep  them  above  the  starvation  point, 
where  they  are,  how  can  such  a  people  rise  and  cross  the  con- 
tinent ?  The  measure  on  its  face  is  no  remedy  at  all.  Besides, 
who  does  not  know  that  should  these  people  ever  attempt  such 
an  exodus,  that  they  would  be  met  with  shot-guns  at  every 
cross-road.  Who  does  not  know  that  the  white  land- 
holders of  the  South  would  never  consent  to  let  that  labor 
which  alone  gives  value  to  ther  land  march  off  without  oppo- 
sition ?  Who  does  not  know  that  if  the  Federal  Govern- 
ment is  powerless  to  protect  these  people  in  staying  that  it 
would  be  equally  powerless  to  protect  them  in  going  en 
masse  f  For  one,  I  say  away  with  such  contrivances,  such 
lame  and  impotent  substitutes  for  the  justice  and  protection 
due  us.  The  first  duty  that  the  National  Government  owes 
to  its  citizens  is  protection. 

While,  however,  I  hold  now,  as  I  held  years  ago,  that  the 
South  is  the  natural  home  of  the  colored  race,  and  that  there 
must  the  destiny  of  that  race  be  mainly  worked  out,  I  still 
believe  that  means  can  be  and  ought  to  be  adopted  to  assist 
in  the  emigration  of  such  of  their  number  as  may  wish  to 
change  their  residence  to  parts  of  the  country  where  their 
civil  and  political  rights  are  better  protected  than  at  present 
they  can  be  at  the  South. 

I  adopt  the  suggestion  of  the  National  JZeptfMican,  of  this 
city,  that  diffusion  is  the  true  policy  for  the  colored  people  of 
the  South.  All,  of  course,  cannot  leave  that  section,  and 
ought  not ;  but  some  can,  and  the  condition  of  those  who 
must  remain  will  be  better  because  of  those  who  go.  Men, 
like  trees,  may  be  too  thickly  planted  to  thrive.  If  the  labor 
market  of  Mississippi  were  to-day  not  over-loaded  and  over 
supplied,  the  laborers  would  be  more  fully  appreciated  ;  but 
this  work  of  diffusion  and  distribution  cannot  be  carried  on 
by  the  emancipated  class  alone.  They  need,  and  ought  to 
have,  the  material  aid  of  both  white  and  colored  people  of 
the  free  states.  A  million  of  dollars  devoted  to  this  purpose 
would  do  more  for  the  colored  people  of  the  South  than  the 
same  amount  expended  in  any  other  way.  There  is  no  deg- 
radation, no  loss  of  self-respect,  in  asking  this  aid,  consider- 
ing the  circumstances  of  these  people.  The  white  people  of 
this  nation  owe  them  this  help  and  a  great  deal  more.  The 


keynote  of  the  future  should  not  be  concentration,  but  dif- 
fusion— distribution.  This  may  not  be  a  remedy  for  all  evils 
now  uncured,  but  it  certainly  will  be  a  help  in  the  right  direc- 

A  word  now  in  respect  of  another  remedy  for  the  black 
man's  ills.  It  calls  itself  independent  political  action.  This 
has,  during  the  past  few  years,  been  advocated  with  much 
zeal  and  spirit  by  several  of  our  leading  colored  men,  and 
also  with  much  ability,  though  I  am  happy  to  say  not  with 
much  success.  First,  their  plan,  if  I  understand  it,  is  to 
separate  the  colored  people  of  the  country  from  the  Repub- 
lican  party.  This,  with  them,  is  the  primary  and  essential 
condition  of  making  the  colored  vote  independent.  Hence 
all  their  artillery  is  directed  to  making  that  party  odious  in 
the  eyes  of  the  colored  voters.  Colored  men  who  adhere  to 
the  Republican  party  are  vilified  as  slaves,  office-seekers,  ser- 
viles,  "  knuckle-close  "  Republicans,  as  tools  of  white  men, 
traitors  to  their  race,  and  much  more  of  the  same  sort.  Per- 
haps no  one  has  been  a  more  prominent  target  for  such  de- 
nunciation than  your  humble  speaker. 

Now,  the  position  to  which  these  gentlemen  invite  us  is  one 
of  neutrality  between  the  two  great  political  parties,  and 
to  vote  with  either,  or  against  either,  according  to  the  pre- 
vailing motive  when  the  time  for  action  shall  arrive.  In  the 
interval  we  are  to  have  no  standing  with  either  party,  and 
have  no  active  influence  in  shaping  the  policy  of  either,  but 
we  are  to  stand  alone,  and  hold  ourselves  ready  to  serve 
one  or  to  serve  the  other,  or  both,  as  we  may  incline  at  the 

With  all  respect  to  these  political  doctors,  I  must  say  that 
their  remedy  is  no  remedy  at  all.  No  man  can  serve  two 
masters  in  politics  any  more  than  in  religion.  If  there  is 
one  position  in  life  more  despicable  in  the  eyes  of  man,  and 
more  condemned  by  nature  than  another,  it  is  that  of  neu- 
trality. Besides,  if  there  is  one  thing  more  impossible  than 
another,  it  is  a  position  of  perfect  neutrality  in  politics.  Our 
friends,  Fortune,  Downing,  and  others,  flatter  themselves 
that  they  have  reached  this  perfection,  but  they  are  utterly 
mistaken.  No  man  can  read  their  utterances  without  seeing 
their  animus  of  hate  to  the  Republican  party,  and  their  pref- 
erence for  the  Democratic  party.  The  fault  is  not  so  much 
in  their  intention,  as  in  their  position.  They  can  neither 
act  with  nor  against  the  two  parties  impartially.  They  are 


compelled  by  their  position  to  either  serve  the  one  and 
oppose  the  other,  and  they  cannot  serve  or  oppose  both  alike. 
Independence,  like  neutrality,  is  also  impossible.  If  the 
colored  man  does  not  depend  upon  the  Republican  party,  he 
will  depend  upon  the  Democratic  party,  and  if  he  does 
neither,  he  becomes  a  nonentity  in  American  politics.  But 
these  gentlemen  do,  in  effect,  ask  us  to  break  down  the  power 
of  the  Republican  party,  when  to  do  it  is  to  put  the  Govern- 
ment in  the  hands  of  the  Democratic  party.  Colored  men 
are  already  in  the  Republican  party,  aud  to  come  out  of  it  is 
to  defeat  it. 

For  one,  I  must  say  that  the  Democratic  party  has  as  yet 
given  me  no  sufficient  reasons  for  doing  it  any  such  service, 
nor  has  the  Republican  party  sunk  so  low  that  I  must  aban- 
don it  for  its  great  rival.  With  all  its  faults  it  is  the  best 
party  now  in  existence.  In  it  are  the  best  elements  of  the 
American  people,  and  if  any  good  is  to  come  to  us  politically 
it  will  be  through  that  party. 

I  must  cease  to  remember  a  great  many  things  and  must 
forget  a  great  many  things  before  I  can  counsel  any  man, 
colored  or  white,  to  join  the  Democratic  party,  or  to  occupy 
a  position  of  neutrality  between  that  party  and  the  Republi- 
can party.  Such  a  position  of  the  colored  people  of  this 
country  will  prove  about  as  comfortable  as  between  the  upper 
and  nether  millstone.  Those  of  our  number  now  posing  as 
Independents  are  doing  better  service  to  the  Democratic 
party  under  the  Independent  mask  than  they  could  do  if  they 
came  out  honestly  for  the  Democratic  party. 

I  am  charged  with  commending  the  inaugural  address  of 
President  Cleveland.  I  am  not  ashamed  of  that  charge.  I 
said  at  the  time  that  no  better  words  for  the  colored  citizen 
had  dropped  from  the  east  portico  of  the  Capitol  since  the 
days  of  Lincoln  and  Grant,  and  I  say  so  still.  I  did  not  say, 
as  my  traducer  lyingly  asserts,  that  Mr.  Cleveland  said  better 
words  than  Lincoln  or  Grant.  But  it  would  not  have  suited 
the  man  who  left  Washington  with  malice  in  his  heart  and  false- 
hood in  his  throat  to  be  more  truthful  in  Petersburg  than  in 
Washington.  This  malcontent  accuser  seeks  to  make  the  im- 
pression that  those  who  thought  and  spoke  well  of  the  inaugural 
address  did  so  from  selfish  motives,  and  from  a  desire  to  get  or 
retain  office.  "  Out  of  the  abundance  of  the  heart  the  mouth 
speaketh."  "With  what  judgment  ye  judge,  ye  shall  be 
judged,  and  with  what  measure  ye  mete,  the  same  shall  be 


measured  to  you  again."  He  ought  to  remember/however,  that 
a  serpent  without  a  fang,  a  scorpion  without  a  sting,  has  no 
more  ability  to  poison  than  a  lie  which  has  lost  its  ability  to 
deceive  has  to  injure.  It  so  happens  that  we  had  two  Pres- 
idents and  one  Vice-President  prior  to  President  Cleveland, 
and  I  challenge  my  ambitious  and  envious  accuser  to  find  any 
better  word  for  the  colored  citizens  of  this  country  in  the  inaug- 
ural addresses  of  either  than  is  found  in  the  inaugural  address 
of  President  Cleveland.  I  also  beg  my  accuser  to  remember 
that  I  gave  no  pledge  that  Mr.  Cleveland  would  be  able  to 
live  up  to  the  sentiments  of  that  address,  but,  on  the  contrary, 
I  doubted  even  the  probability  of  his  success  in  doing  so.  I 
gave  him  credit,  however,  for  an  honest  purpose,  and  expressed 
a  hope  that  he  might  be  able  to  do  as  well  and  better  than  he 
promised.  But  I  saw  him  in  the  rapids  and  predicted  that 
they  would  be  too  strong  for  him.  Did  this  look  like  seeking 
favor  ?  He  did  a  brave  thing  in  removing  from  office  an 
abettor  of  murder  in  Mississippi.  He  has  expressed  in  a 
private  way,  to  Messrs.  Bruce  and  Lynch,  his  reprobation 
of  the  recent  massacres  at  Carrollton,  and  for  this  we  thank 
him.  But  he  has  done  nothing  in  his  position  as  Commander- 
in-chief  of  the  army  and  navy  to  put  a  stop  to  such  horrors. 
I  am  quite  sure  that  he  abhors  violence  and  bloodshed. 
He  has  shown  this  in  his  publicly  spoken  words  in  behalf 
of  persecuted  and  murdered  Chinamen  ;  he  should  do  the 
same  for  the  persecuted  and  murdered  black  citizens  of 
Mississippi.  He  could  threaten  the  law-breakers  and  mur- 
derers of  the  West  with  the  sword  of  the  nation,  why  not  the 
South  ?  If  it  was  right  to  protect  and  defend  the  Chinese, 
why  not  the  negro  ?  If  in  the  days  of  slavery  the  army 
could  be  used  to  hunt  slaves,  and  suppress  slave  insurrec- 
tions, why,  in  the  days  of  liberty,  may  it  not  be  used  to 
enforce  rights  guaranteed  by  the  Constitution  ?  Alas !  fellow-  s 
citizens,  there  is  no  right  so  neglected  as  the  negro's  right. 
There  is  no  flesh  so  despised  as  the  negro's  flesh.  There 
is  no  blood  so  cheap  as  the  negro's  blood.  I  have  been 
saying  these  things  to  the  American  people  for  nearly  fifty 
years.  In  the  order  of  nature  I  cannot  say  them  much 
longer ;  but,  as  was  said  by  another,  "  though  time  himself 
should  confront  me,  and  shake  his  hoary  locks  at  my  persist- 
ence, I  shall  not  cease  while  life  is  left  me,  and  our  wrongs 
are  unredressed,  to  thus  cry  aloud  and  spare  not." 

Fellow-citizens,  I  am  disappointed.     The  accession  of  the 



Democratic  party  to  power  has  not  been  followed  by  the 
results  I  expected.  When  the  tiger  has  quenched  his  thirst 
in  blood,  and  when  the  anaconda  has  swallowed  his  prey, 
they  cease  to  pursue  their  trembling  game  and  sink  to  rest ; 
so  I  thought  when  the  Democratic  party  came  into  power, 
when  the  solid  South  gave  law  to  the  land,  when  there  could 
no  longer  be  any  pretence  for  the  fear  of  negro  ascend- 
ency in  the  councils  of  the  nation,  persecution,  violence, 
and  murder  would  cease,  and  the  negro  would  be  left  in 
peace  ;  but  the  bloody  scenes  at  Carrollton,  and  the  daily  re- 
ports of  lynch  law  in  the  South,  have  destroyed  this  cher- 
ished hope  and  told  me  that  the  end  of  our  sufferings  is  not 

But,  fellow-citizens,  I  do  not  despair,  and  no  power  that  I 
know  of  can  make  me  despair  of  the  ultimate  triumph  of  jus- 
tice and  liberty  in  this  country  A  I  have  seen  too  many  abuses 
outgrown,  too  many  evils  removed,  too  many  moral  and  physi- 
cal improvements  made,  to  doubt  that  the  wheels  of  progress 
will  still  roll  on.  We  have  but  to  toil  and  trust,  throw  away 
whiskey  and  tobacco,  improve  the  opportunities  that  we  have, 
put  away  all  extravagance,  learn  to  live  within  our  means,  lay 
up  our  earnings,  educate  our  children,  live  industrious  and 
virtuous  lives,  establish  a  character  for  sobriety,  punctuality, 
and  general  uprightness,  and  we  shall  raise  up  powerful  friends 
who  shall  stand  by  us  in  our  struggle  for  an  equal  chance  in 
the  race  of  life.  The  white  people  of  this  country  are  asleep, 
but  not  dead.  In  other  days  we  had  a  potent  voice  in  the 
Senate  which  awoke  the  nation. 

Ireland  now  has  an  advocate  in  the  British  Senate  who  has 
arrested  the  eye  and  ear  of  the  civilized  world  in  champion- 
ing the  cause  of  Ireland.  There  is  to-day  in  the  American 
Senate  an  opportunity  for  an  American  Gladstone ;  one  whose 
voice  shall  have  power  to  awake  this  nation  to  the  stupendous 
wrongs  inflicted  upon  our  newly-made  citizens  and  move  the 
Government  to  a  vindication  of  our  constitutional  rights.  We 
have  in  other  days  had  a  Sumner,  a  Wilson,  a  Chase,  a  Conk- 
ling,  a  Thaddeus  Stevens,  and  a  Morton.  These  did  not  ex- 
haust the  justice  and  humanity  of  American  statesmanship. 
There  is  heart  and  eloquence  still  left  in  the  councils  of  the 
nation,  and  these  will,  I  trust,  yet  make  themselves  potent  in 
having  both  the  Constitution  of  1789  and  the  Constitution 
with  the  fourteenth  and  fifteenth  amendments  made  practi- 
cally the  law  of  the  land  for  all  the  people  thereof.